Friday, July 22, 2011

Jonesborough, Tennessee

We last visited Jonesborough in December and we've been wanting to go back for a longer stay. Jonesborough is Tennessee's oldest town, home to the National Storytelling Festival, and just generally a fun place to visit. Founded in 1779 to be the county seat of the newly-formed Washington County of North Carolina, the residents soon became disenchanted with the state's distant leadership. They set out to form their own state. The State of Franklin was born in 1784 and functioned until 1788 without ever being recognized by the United States Congress. North Carolina reclaimed the territory in 1788, but it subsequently was included in the boundaries of Tennessee when it attained statehood in 1796.

These fine 19th Century cottages sit across a park with bandstand from the mansions on the hillside.

The downtown functions as seat of government, business district, and tourist attraction.

This is one view from the offices of Dr. Bill Kennedy, orthopedic surgeon and preservationist. The former bank building looks out on the 1797 Chester Inn. Wouldn't it be fun to go to work and have that to look at?

The 1864 Salt House was built to store and distribute salt during the Civil War. Salt was in short supply during the war and the community raised the funds to buy a shipment, which they then resold to themselves. The building has been repurposed many times since; as a Masonic Hall, a grocery, a post office, and a restaurant. It was vacant again when we visited.

The "Mail Pouch Building" was built in 1889 and housed a saloon until 1904. The advertising mural was painted in 1902, but was hidden from view for many years after another building was put up next to it. That building was demolished in the 1960s and its space now contains a parking lot. I really need to get back early on a Sunday morning and get a picture when no cars block the view.

Jonesborough is in upper east Tennessee in the space formed between Interstate Highways 81 and 26 with the Blue Ridge Mountains. Limestone, the birthplace of Davy Crockett, is nearby, as is Johnson City, home of East Tennessee State University. Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia, site of the first-ever country music recording sessions, is not far. Also nearby is Erwin, Tennessee, where in 1916 they executed Mary, a circus elephant that had been convicted of killing her trainer and sentenced to hang. It took a railroad crane to get the job done. You can't make this stuff up, folks. There are pictures!

1 comment:

  1. These look wonderful old buildings and each with such a story to tell. A photographer's paradise, I think.