Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee, and one of the earliest areas to settle after the original 13 states. It was founded in 1779 when the area was still part of North Carolina. In 1784, it became the capital of the State of Franklin, which sought autonomy from NC but was reclaimed by 1788. Many of the farmers were subsistence farmers and supported the abolition of slavery, despite joining the Confederacy. Today, Jonesborough is in the state of Tennessee and boasts many reminders of its long history. It is also situated in the picturesque foothills of the Appalachian mountains and close to the Cherokee Forest.
1.Jonesborough Repertory Theatre
This community theatre came into being in 1969 when the company put on a play written by the mayor, Jimmy Neil Smith, entitled, “This Then is Tennessee”. A year later the theatre launched its first season. Timothy Busfield started the children's theatre in 1988. The first base was in the old courtroom, which lent itself to many courtroom dramas. Their current home is in the old casket factory. There are eight stage productions per season, a traveling theatre troupe and outreaches to schools and senior citizens. Sign language interpretation is available at the final Saturday performance of each production.
125 W Main St, 37659 Jonesborough, Tennessee, Phone: 423-791-4440
2.International Story Telling Center
© International Story Telling Center
This Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, is the only one of its kind in the world, being wholly dedicated to the oral tradition of story telling. The campus is situated in a three acre park and has an inn on-site for visitors. Every year, from May to October, there is a program of 'tellers in residence' who entertain the audiences for 5 days each week. They also conduct workshops on campus. The three-day, annual National Story Telling Festival is held in early October each year. People come from all over the globe to hear these stories.
116 W. Main Street, Jonesborough, Phone: 423-753-2171 or 800-952-8392
3.The Chester Inn State Historic Site
© The Chester Inn State Historic Site
Dr William P. Chester built the inn in 1797, in order to supplement his income. His apothecary shop was housed in the basement. The inn was considered luxurious in his day and three Presidents stopped over. Other travelers had to share rooms and sometimes, even beds – for a lesser charge. The original Federal style building has been altered several times. In 1836 it was doubled in size and in 1880, the porch was added. During renovations, 97 layers of paint were found on the exterior walls. Regular talks of historic interest are held on the premises.
116 West Main Street, Jonesborough, TN, Phone: 423-753-4580
4.The Heritage Alliance
© The Heritage Alliance
The Heritage Alliance was established in 2001, as a result of a merger of three former preservation societies in the area. They service Jonesborough, Washing County and further afield, if necessary. Their programs include education and public awareness drives to save the heritage of the region. There is a particular focus on assisting home schoolers. The Alliance runs the state-owned Chester Inn Museum and archives, and has embarked on a digitization program to capture material still in private hands. There are regular town and cemetery tours and their calendar indicates a busy summer season.
212 East Sabin Drive, Jonesborough, TN 37659, Phone: 423-753-9580
© Fender's Farm
Fender's Farm started out as a farmers' market but has since embraced agritourism. It has a 7 acre corn maze which has won awards for being the best designed and largest in the world. There are 50 other fun thing to do on the farm, including zip-lines and bungee jumping. The program changes throughout the year according to farm activities, like harvesting. Permanent adventures include 'Scaredy Cat' parties which take part in the Insane Inn, the Haunted Shed or the Field of Screams. The venue is large enough to host multiple group functions simultaneously. All age groups can be entertained at this versatile venue.
254 Highway 107, Jonesborough, TN 37659, Phone: 423-753-4469
6.Hands Around the World
© Hands Around the World
Retired art teacher, Janet Browning, was inspired on one of her travels, to open a shop back home that sells traditional arts and crafts, made by indigenous people around the world. The shop has stock from more than 30 countries. Janet travels to the artists and handpicks her merchandise, trading according to fair trade practices. She hopes to contribute to the alleviation of poverty in these countries and to educate consumers about the products and customs. Patrons can join Janet on one or more of the many buying trips she undertakes to exotic destinations each year. Tour groups are kept small.
111 East Main Street, Jonesborough, TN, Phone: 423-753-8177
6 Best Things to Do in Jonesborough, Tennessee