By LISA WHALEY
The stories this house could tell.
Jonesborough’s Rees-Hawley House was honored Friday as one of the oldest houses in Tennessee’s oldest town, adding yet another page in a historical tale that began in 1779.
“The story of the Rees-Hawley house begins even before Tennessee became a state,” said Dynal Savery, second vice president of the Katherine Marbury Scott Chapter of the Colonial Dames XVII Century at a July 20 ceremony to mark the historic structure. Built upon Lot No. 1 of the original town plan by attorney James Rees, it has witnessed the settling of a frontier, the creation of a town, prohibition, Civil War and more.
“Through the years, many changes have happened to the house, many owners, but one thing remains the same,” Savery continued. “It is still one of the oldest houses in the historic district of Jonesborough.”
Currently owned by longtime Jonesborough resident Marcy Hawley, the three-story, chestnut log structure features a wrap-around porch, original limestone foundation and original cooking fireplace and has served as a favorite bed-and-breakfast for 22 years.
The home was purchased by Hawley and her husband R.I.C. in 1988 and restored at that time with painstaking historical details to maintain its character. R.I.C. Hawley passed away in 2000.
“I’m sorry my husband is not here because he is the one who did the hard work.,” a tearful Hawley told the crowd who had gathered for the plaque unveiling. “Thank you all so, so much.”
But this award was about so much more than honoring the Hawleys’ work. According to Mary Stagg Johnston with the National Colonial Dames Society in a letter she sent to the event, “This marking will help those who follow to be able to understand the influence your ancestors had on our lives. This marking interprets places important to understanding America’s past.”
Cindy Waters, Tennessee Society for the Colonial Dames president, agreed.
“The Katherine Marbury Scott Chapter of the Colonial Dames XVII Century recognized the importance of the Rees-Hawley house and we were determined to designate it as one of the oldest surviving structures in Jonesborough,” she said.
The marking also reflects the historical importance of Jonesborough, Waters said.
“The history of your state began in the hills and mountains of this area,” she said. Tennessee is the state’s oldest town, and the building of the historic district remain in much the same way as when they were erected. Yet, “this place isn’t a museum, untouchable and roped off. It’s a thriving commercial district.”
A reception was held at the McKinney Center following the awards ceremony.
The National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century is an organization of women, eighteen years of age or over, who are lineal descendants of an ancestor who lived and served prior to 1701 in one of the Original Colonies in the geographical area of the present United State of America. Established on July 15, 1915, the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century is a non-profit organization with its headquarters located in Washington D.C. Constructed in 1884, the headquarters building holds historical significance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Colonial Dames work is dedicated to the preservation of historic sites and records, promotion of heraldry and coats of arms, and support of charitable projects and education.