Chester Inn Museum Opens with New Exhibits

The Chester Inn State Historic Site & Museum is now open for 2021, and visitors can expect to find two new exhibits on display!


The first exhibit is “Black in Appalachia: African American History in Kingsport,” a travelling exhibit on loan from the Kingsport Archives. They partnered with the group Black in Appalachia to compile a 10-panel exhibit covering five different aspects of African American life in Kingsport. The exhibit explores the roles that community leaders and organizations played in shaping the African American experience in the city. It will be on display through July 4th.



The second exhibit is “From Here to There: A Brief History of Transportation in Jonesborough.” This exhibit features archival photographs and artifacts relating to the different eras of transportation throughout Jonesborough’s history. It traces the evolution of travel from horse and carriage through railroad and automobile and explores the impact that road, railroad, and air travel had on the area.



The museum opened on Monday, March 1st, and is operating under its normal spring hours. In March and April the museum will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, and will be closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. There is no admission price, but there is a suggested $2 donation per visitor. We recommend that visitors wear face coverings while visiting the museum, and we are happy to provide one for a $1 donation. Keep up to date with the museum by following the Chester Inn on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!


This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission.

February 18 History-Themed Trivia Night

The Heritage Alliance is pleased to offer a history-themed team trivia challenge on Thursday, February 18 at 7:00 PM. This is the second trivia event sponsored by the organization, who first offered the program in December 2020. The event encourages friendly competition for participants who answer questions pertaining to general historical knowledge.



Teams (of up to six people) can register for this virtual trivia experience up until the evening of the event, which will kick off at 7:00 PM and last approximately two hours. Joe Spiker, Head Docent of the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum, and Megan Cullen Tewell, Programming Coordinator at the Heritage Alliance, host the event via Zoom, tallying points and administering prizes to the winners. The event is family-friendly and open to all ages. Cost is $5 per team, although additional donations are appreciated.


You can sign your team up for trivia at Link to sign up for the event is at the top of the page. Like and follow the organization on Facebook for more information.

Annual Meeting Update for Heritage Alliance Members

And somehow we’re here and 2020 is over, a year like no other. This past year simultaneously moved at the speed of snail and the speed of light. Through it all, our staff, board members, and volunteers have worked hard to keep our programming adaptive and engaging. We hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve had to offer.

There are a few issues I’d like to address here in my end of the year musings. First, THANK YOU all SO MUCH for your show of support on Giving Tuesday on December 1st. As you know, it wasn’t safe to host the Progressive Dinner this year so we actively participated in the national day of giving for non-profits. We had several virtual tours and programs that day, including our first ever History Trivia event. It was a great day, and we felt your love and support tenfold.

(Don’t worry, we’ll be doing more trivia in the future.)

The second item I’d like to discuss is the state of the Annual Meeting. Usually, we all gather together at the Visitor’s Center in January to share the best potluck of the year and celebrate the organization’s accomplishments. As we continue to slog through this pandemic, a gathering of such magnitude is not advisable in January of 2021. Our hope is to have our potluck outside at a nice venue in the spring/summer. An official date announcement will come later.

Even if we can’t gather together at the start of the year, there is an important piece of business that must be taken care of. Per the Heritage Alliance By-Laws, the new and returning members of the Board of Trustees must be voted on by the general Membership in January. We do not have to meet in person to do this. There are options for voting, and I’ve outlined them below.

On Friday, January 15, 2021, the Heritage Alliance will open the Annual Meeting. I will send out an email to the Members from Board President Gordon Edwards with the official Board of Trustees’ ballot. Members will vote to confirm the returning Trustees for a three year term and the new Trustees who are joining the Board in 2021 for their first three year term.

If we do not have your email address on file, do not worry. We will be mailing paper ballots with return envelopes to Members who do not wish to receive communication via email. If you’d rather receive a paper ballot as opposed to an email ballot, please contact our office and let us know.
All ballots, email and paper, must be returned by Friday, January 29, 2021. On that day, Board President Gordon Edwards will close the Annual Meeting and the results of the election will be announced. I hope this is clear. If you have any questions about how the Annual Meeting will work, please reach out to me at the office. We will be sending further communication on this matter at the beginning of the new year.

Speaking of 2021, the Heritage Alliance will be celebrating our 20th anniversary. (Just another reason we want to wait until it’s safer to have our potluck.) We’ve partnered with the Herald & Tribune to help us commemorate this anniversary. Every week we’ll be showcasing historic photos from our archival collection in the paper, and every third Wednesday we’ll have a featured article about one aspect of the Heritage Alliance. As you all know, we do a lot, so we’re really excited about the opportunity to share our mission through these articles.

I know we’ll find other ways to celebrate the anniversary safely next year. And who knows, you all might be asked to contribute an article.

Johnson City Postal Savings Bank and Post Office Added to National Register

On November 17, 2020, the Johnson City Postal Savings Bank and Post Office was officially added to the NPS National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Historic sites on the register are federally recognized treasures with exceptional historic and/or architectural value. The building was admitted to the NRHP due to its governmental and architectural significance, primarily its beaux-arts design, which was a common style for civic building at the turn of the twentieth century.

The admittance of the Johnson City Postal Savings Bank is the culmination of over a year of hard work. During this time, the Heritage Alliance has been able to successfully engage in local historic preservation efforts that highlight the building’s history. Throughout 2019 and 2020, staff members of the Heritage Alliance worked with numerous community, civic, and governmental partners in order to create a NRHP application for the building, including local grassroots preservation group the Coalition for Historic Preservation.

The Heritage Alliance’s coordination with these organizations to advocate on behalf of the building was recognized by regional leaders including Mayor Joe Grandy and the Washington County Commission, and they designated the Heritage Alliance as the site’s preservation coordinator in January 2020.

Heritage Alliance board member and Johnson City Historic Zoning Commissioner Hal Hunter dedicated his time, effort, and expertise to completing the architectural significance portion of the application, while Programming Coordinator Megan Cullen Tewell completed the historical research on the building. Executive Director Anne G’Fellers-Mason managed the entire project and worked diplomatically with various partners to coordinate each phase of the application process. Thanks to the efforts of all of these stakeholders, the building has finally received the attention that it deserves.


So, what’s next for the Johnson City Postal Savings Bank? The Washington County Commission generously matched funds from the Johnson City Development Authority and the Southside Neighborhood Organization to fund a feasibility study in order to assess the building’s condition and potential reuse. That study will be underway shortly and will likely completed by mid-2021. Stay tuned for more details!

A Taste of Tennessee Community Curated Cookbook on Sale Now!

Everyone knows that the best part of any potluck is sampling the crockpot creations and pie tin productions of friends and neighbors. But, the absence of cookouts, fish fries, and dinner parties has generally left us alone in our kitchens with our own cooking. Fortunately, there is still a way this holiday season to try the tasty and beloved recipes of others!


The Heritage Alliance is looking to reunite people through food with the release of their first-ever community curated cookbook, A Taste Tennessee. Consisting of contributions by local community members, as well as reprints of historical recipes, A Taste of Tennessee contains more than just food. It also provides historical anecdotes, archival photos, newspaper clippings, artwork, and songs/myths all related to Appalachian foodways, making it feel like a potluck in print. “Because of the current health crisis, the Heritage Alliance has had to limit our in-person programming,” says Anne G’Fellers-Mason, the organization’s Executive Director. “But this cookbook offers us a great opportunity to interact with, and serve, the community in a way that’s central to our mission—and that’s fun!”



A Taste of Tennessee is currently for sale at the Jonesborough Visitors’ Center on Boone Street and through the Heritage Alliance on East Sabin Drive. Printed, black and white copies can be purchased for $12 or you can download a digital color version for $8 (through the Heritage Alliance exclusively). To purchase through the Heritage Alliance, call us at 423-753-9580 or reach out to us via email at These cookbooks are a limited release and would make an excellent holiday gift for folks interested in food, Appalachia, and local history.


Learn more about the cookbook at and like the organization on Facebook for more information. The Heritage Alliance is dedicated to the preservation of the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our region and to providing educational experiences related to history and heritage for a wide range of audiences.

Heritage Alliance Hosts Virtual Holiday Cooking Class with Margie Kendall

Are you in the mood to whip up a festive dish from the comfort of your home kitchen? Well, you’re in luck! The Heritage Alliance is hosting an online cooking class with local foodie and blogger Margie Kendall on Saturday, December 12th at 4:00 p.m. Margie hosted a cooking class for the Alliance in August and she’s back this December with a unique, holiday dish. For just $25.00, you can Zoom with Margie and make butternut squash ravioli. The pasta will be made from scratch with no special equipment required.


Participants will make a delicious winter-inspired butternut squash filling, and Margie will show everyone how to form different types of ravioli in a workshop-style setting that’s interactive. You’ll cook your ravioli together and make a browned butter sauce to toss it in at the end to result in a simple, scratch-made meal that’s perfect for a cozy winter evening. Spots in this class are limited, so make sure you sign up today. You can purchase tickets for this class online through the Town of Jonesborough’s ticketing system at  Participants will receive a list of ingredients and the Zoom link for the class ahead of time.



If you have any questions, please contact the Heritage Alliance at 423-753-9580. Proceeds from this class help us with our educational programs.

Call for Proposals for Feasibility Study of Ashe Street Courthouse

The Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia is collecting written proposals from qualified individuals and firms to provide a feasibility study for the building known as the “Historic Ashe Street Courthouse,” located at Ashe Street in Johnson City, TN. The official RFP with all of the pertinent information can be accessed by clicking HERE. The detailed information is also included below.

The contractor will be responsible for completing a study for the rehabilitation or adaptive re-use of the building. The study is intended to provide the property owner with the resources necessary to make an informed decision regarding the feasibility of the project in its preliminary stages, and may include but are not limited to:

·         Building condition assessment – construction methods, building envelope (roof, walls, windows, etc.), HVAC, electrical, plumbing, structural, exterior and interior finishes, materials/construction in all of the building’s phases of renovation and analysis of said materials/construction

·         Proposed uses for the building including description of how well each proposed option fits the current condition of the building and how well it might fit a restored, historic post office/courthouse, what systems would need to be modified/augmented/replaced for each proposed use

·         Cost estimates

·         Green technology potential

·         Funding strategies

·         Pro-forma analysis


All proposals MUST include a qualification section where interested parties describe their prior experience with this type of work and list who is expected to work on the study and why they would be chosen to complete the work.


All work on this project is to be completed by June 14, 2021.


Coordinate any visits to the building with the office of Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy. Please direct all proposals and questions to Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance.


An estimate for the cost of the study MUST be included with the proposal.


Proposals are due to the Heritage Alliance no later than 5:00 PM EST on December 14, 2020, via mail or email.

Heritage Alliance Plans Exciting Programs for GivingTuesday on December 1st

This year has been a year of growth and change for the Heritage Alliance. It has been a year of struggle, but also one of triumph. Even when we were closed to the public, the Heritage Alliance kept working to preserve local history and share it with the world. We’ve created digital exhibits, filmed and edited educational web series, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, and worked on a National Register Nomination. On December 1st, we’ll be sharing special content on our social media pages, including a railroad history tour, a special peek into a historic restoration project in progress, our first ever trivia event, and much more! The Heritage Alliance will be sharing this content as a part of GivingTuesday as a way to raise awareness of our mission and the wonderful history we have all around us.


GivingTuesday is a global day of giving and unity that will take place on December 1, 2020. The day is designed to drive an influx of generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.


At a time when we are all experiencing the pandemic, generosity is what brings people together across the globe. Generosity gives everyone power to make a positive change in the lives of others and is a fundamental value anyone can act on. It’s a day for everyone around the world to stand together and give back in all ways, no matter who or where we are.


Like so many non-profits during this time, the Heritage Alliance has had to rethink our programs and planned fundraisers, and we will not be able to host our annual, holiday fundraiser this year. We hope our audiences have enjoyed the new programs, exhibits, and initiatives we’ve created. Our goal is always to educate and entertain. On GivingTuesday, we encourage you to make a donation to the Heritage Alliance, even a $2 donation to the museums, or a $7 donation to Oak Hill School helps to ensure our buildings and artifacts are taken care of and that we can continue to offer our educational programs. You can make a donation on GivingTuesday via our website ( or our Facebook page. We hope you’ll join us on December 1st for some fun, historical content, and we hope you’ll learn more about the Heritage Alliance and the work we do.


The Heritage Alliance is dedicated to the preservation of the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our region and to providing educational experiences related to history and heritage for a wide range of audiences.  For more information, please call our office at 423.753.9580, or contact the organization via email at


GivingTuesday is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.

Online History Happy Hour November 19: Stories from Langston School

The fourth season of History Happy Hour is wrapping up with an online presentation on Thursday, November 19th, at 6:30 pm!



Join us as we welcome a speaker from the Langston Centre in Johnson City, Tennessee, as they share stories about the building and Langston High School. The Langston Centre was built in 1893 as the Langston Normal School. A 1925 renovation, made possible by Rosenwald funding, added a gymnasium to the school.  Named after Virginia congressional representative John Mercer Langston, it served as a school for African American students from 1893 to 1965. The Langston Education and Arts Development organization has worked with the community and other groups to help restore Langston as a functioning community center for arts and education.


The program will be offered through the Zoom platform and will also be streamed live on the Chester Inn Museum’s Facebook page. Go to the Chester Inn Museum Facebook page for the link to the meeting room and for the password to login. The program will begin online at 6:30 pm and participants can join the Zoom meeting or stream live on Facebook at that time. Participants who use Zoom are encouraged to keep their microphones muted and relay any questions during the presentation to the chat. The program is free and open to the public!


Here is the Zoom information:

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Meeting ID: 825 0910 2750
Passcode: History
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This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Historical Commission. For more information on the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum, History Happy Hour, or the Heritage Alliance please call our office at 423.753.9580 or the Chester Inn Museum at 423.753.4580.  You can also contact the organization via email at  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at Be sure to follow the Chester Inn and Heritage Alliance Facebook pages for updates about events at the Chester Inn and other Heritage Alliance programs.

Women’s Suffrage in Washington County

The Heritage Alliance is pleased to present its latest exhibit, “Women’s Suffrage in Washington County,” now on display in the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum in Jonesborough, TN.


In honor and celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, this exhibit uses new resources – like the Washington County voter registration books from 1919 to 1922 – to tell the story of local women and their fight to receive the vote. Highlighting notable women of Jonesborough and Johnson City, as well as their achievements throughout the early 20th century, “Women’s Suffrage in Washington County” provides a closer, more focused look at the suffrage movement in Northeast Tennessee.


Visit the exhibit now until the end of 2020! Learn more about the exhibit at and like the organization on Facebook for more information.