Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Historic Chester Inn remains unique downtown Jonesborough treasure

A few weeks ago, we received a much needed rain. Arriving home, I found our house framed in the center of a rainbow. A site to be seen. A site reminding us of what a wonderful world God has given us, and the wonderful place in which we live.   
 I could never prove it, but it looked like the end of the rainbow was somewhere in Jonesborough. This fits because Jonesborough is packed full of treasures.  
 One of these treasures is the Chester Inn. Managed by the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, the Chester Inn has been turned into one of the most unique historic museums I’ve seen.  
 The building itself is amazing in it was built in the late 1700s, and was visited by presidents and dignitaries of long ago. It has lasted through the ages in a town that experienced several devastating fires during its early days. It is also of note that the State of Tennessee stepped in to help with a major restoration effort, ensuring we would be able to enjoy this piece of our history.  
As you enter the museum, you will be greeted by knowledgable docents who will help you orient yourself to the layout of the museum, and answer questions. You will notice there are very few artifacts (due to limitations of space and possible flood) but the history abounds. Photographs, timelines, stories, posters, dioramas and videos all tell the story of one of the most unique towns in the country.  
 As you read through these and begin to absorb the accomplishments of the town, its struggles, the “out of the box” thinking about things such as educating women and African Americans (unheard of at that time), abolition, and its foresight in bringing things like the railroad through to enhance commerce, you will find the town has changed little.  
 Today, it continues on its visionary path, repurposing old structures, restoring buildings, creating educational opportunities for its residents, new parks, walking paths, arts centers, etc.   
 And in keeping with the past, Jonesborough and its extended community remain able to accomplish these things through forward thinking leadership, a dedicated town staff,  and dedicated volunteers and service clubs, who work tirelessly make Jonesborough the wonderful town it is.  
 Once you have seen the displays in the lower section of the museum, take a walk upstairs. You will find displays of rooms that would be typical an 1880s tavern. Travelers staying overnight at the Chester Inn would sit and talk with the town’s residents where the latest news would be exchanged. This was the “Internet” of the time.    
 Jonesborough is full of treasures and history, and this is just one of many. Its significance is that it tells the story of Jonesborough so well in a historic setting with actual period photographs and even creative window designs that take you back to “the day”.  
 If you and your family have not visited the museum, I strongly suggest you consider it. 
 Yes, these walls do talk.