A Country Rag--Rivers Side

A Country Rag Another Side

Graphic above: oil on canvas, Margaret Gregg, Mill Creek Studios, Limestone, TN


by Jeannette Harris

Note: This article first appeared in The New Jonesborough Emancipator (Publisher: Jim Austin), Jonesborough Artisan and Antique Dealer a hardcopy revival of the Tennessee Town's original abolitionist newspaper created in 1820 by Elihu Embree, who stated his publishing motivation as follows: "It is not to produce, nor hasten this epoch [the abolition of slavery], that I have been induced to publish this paper, but to do my part, in this my day, to avert the impending storm."

The Appalachian region is blessed with many and varied homes that have opened some rooms to the public. The National Storytelling Festival, held October 1-3 this year, draws national and international visitors to the small Town of Jonesborough, Tennessee's oldest, the state's original capitol. (It was also capitol of the State of Franklin but that's another story.) "That Home Town Taste" explores history and attractions of a few representative bed-and-breakfast lodgings.

Graphic: Drawing by Charles Dyer

October, 1999

The Town’s business of renting a room and serving a morning meal to out-of-town visitors began with the original Jonesborough Bed & Breakfast, a College Street booking agency which took reservations and located amenable citizens who owned historic homes. For a reasonable commission, the agency handled bookkeeping and tax records until transferring ownership and location to the Bledsoes, current owners of Woodrow Avenue’s Jonesborough Bed & Breakfast. As interest and demand for this type of lodging grew, the Town’s innkeepers, including the Bledsoes, established separate business enterprises and the Visitors Center became one of several centralized sources for information on booking and reservations.

The concept of letting out rooms within private homes, particularly in more rural areas and especially for fairs and festivals, became formalized throughout America over the past several decades with the licensed establishment of "bed and breakfast" inns. Their unique appeal to travelers is local ambiance -- immersion, however brief, in the real flavor and folklore which distinguish one town and region from the next, this family’s talents and ancestral traditions from anothers. Like the many gourmet varieties of coffee available now, each of the Jonesborough bed-and-breakfast inns has a fascinating personality all its own, a memorable zeitgeist that causes the prospective visitor to linger over an enticing array of choices before choosing just one.

Bugaboo Bed & Breakfast offers the world-weary guest 15 acres of secluded, wooded privacy just over a mile from the historic streets of downtown Jonesborough. Well-behaved children are welcome to enjoy with others the homey comfort and cheer offered for nearly a decade by innkeepers Lee and Nancy Hallberg. View north between Jonesborough and Greeneville TN Their Old English contemporary home features a second floor of two bedrooms, each with private bath, and a sitting hall overlooking the living area with its woodstove and a large original stained glass by area artisan Kit Monger. Restoration furniture by Curtis Buchanan enlivens bright and spacious rooms which afford a view of cows and horses pastured in neighboring fields. Cut under the sheltering canopy of tall native trees, hiking paths clear a trail from mountain vistas to secluded benches and a pond. For relaxing under Appalachian stars, a hot tub on Bugaboo’s deck eases sore muscles and tired feet from a day’s adventure in nearby towns. Morning meal service includes fresh produce, fruit and vegetable, from house gardens; the variety of "fixings from scratch" depend on seasonal availability.

The antique elegance and gourmet service of Blair-Moore House overlay its foundation of friendly convenience for Town visitors. A two-room street-level suite with private bath, and accommodating up to three persons, allows easy access to sidewalk treats of Jonesborough for handicapped guests. Two upstairs rooms complete accommodations, all of which include separate porches and unique decor, including clawfoot bathtubs, pedestal commodes and European-style showers. The educated, enthusiastic interest of innkeepers Jack and Tami Moore in displaying collections of unusual antiques is evident in formal service for visitors to their home and in the decoration of each room. In fact, the Moores labored in plaster and paint for nearly six years to restore architectural integrity to a building originally constructed in the 1830s and its 20th century additions. During some of that time, its downstairs west wing, now the suite, served as their antique shop. An unusual plantation pie, or milk, safe finds practical purpose at the turn of the 21st century in Blair-Moore’s dining room. National Storytelling Festival 1998, Jonesborough TN Three-course epicurean breakfasts served there and afternoon teas in the parlor reveal Tami’s years of expertise in her family’s catering business and have become a source of complimentary astonishment and referral, as has the Moore’s attention to luxury detail in entertaining visitors to their home.

The Old Yellow Vic earned its name from an early and frequent guest. Jimmy Lewis, a Southern gentleman referred by the Town’s original booking agency, College Street’s Jonesborough Bed & Breakfast, became a repeat visitor and a personal acquaintance of the Stacy family, who commemorated their friendship when licensing the house as a bed-and-breakfast business. Victorian linens, crystal, china and artwork fascinate travelers resting in the comfort of innkeeper Sonya Stacy’s home. Entering the Old Yellow Vic from its circling front porch, guests may check their slips, or shoes, in the low mirror of a "petticoat table," one of numerous unusual antique furnishings. In addition to period pieces, each room displays an extraordinary aspect of the innkeeper’s family flair for art and personal creativity. A three-panel screen in one of three upstairs guest bedrooms was painted entrancingly in oil years ago by her father, Jerry Ross. Professional chalk sketches of his profile and of her mother’s, before marriage and family and at the time her parents attended college in Indiana, adorn an upstairs hall. "Unmade Bed," a sketch by the innkeeper, decorates another bedroom wall. Recent award-winning needlework, and the dining room’s formal painting and original oil wall border, showcase her mother’s varied and current talent. Sonya Stacy creates full formal breakfasts, including unusual foods and accommodating special tastes, for guests in her home. In addition, she owns Pig ‘N Slipper, a popular Main Street shop of antique vendor spaces, including her own Victorian Splendor.

A two-story porch running the breadth of Rees-Hawley House affords its visitors an inviting view from the hill of historic streets and steeples. Built in the late 1700s, the log-and-stone structure itself sits on Lot #1 of the Town’s original plat, enabled by an act of the North Carolina Assembly in 1779. In May 1793, Solicitor for Washington County James Rees began construction of the ground floor kitchen and second floor parlor. In the 19th century, an east side addition doubled the size of the original house. Extensive restorations and careful remodeling in this century include addition of a new kitchen and three guest bedrooms, each with separate bath, by current innkeepers R.I.C. and Marcy Hawley. Their personal touch in service and furnishings compliments the museum-quality age and renovation of Jonesborough’s oldest extant building. Its distinctive features have attracted coverage in Southern Living, Blue Ridge Country, USA Today, and many other regional and national publications. Music at the Courthouse, Jonesborough TN Interior designer Marcy Hawley also supervised period restoration of several local structures, including Jonesborough’s Chester Inn. The Hawleys serve a full candlelit breakfast to suit the time and taste of guests in their spacious 19th century dining room. For visitors intrigued by the legends of Town ghosts, it is noted occasionally over the years by male guests that women can be heard giggling and laughing at night in the hallways of Rees-Hawley House.

No article or photograph will convey the cumulative wealth of items and personalities that altogether make up Jonesborough’s unique lodgings. Each bed-and-breakfast inn contains numerous details of interest and enchantment. Current innkeepers maintain an educated care for their homes and public rooms, adjusting service and menus to accommodate the special needs of individual guests. They share knowledge of local history and provide assistance in exploring the treasures of Tennessee’s Tri-Cities region. All request advance reservations to provide the best of traveler experience. Additional information, including brochures and rates, is available from each bed-and-breakfast inn and at the Jonesborough Visitors Center.

May-Ledbetter House (c. 1904)
Innkeepers: Doug and Donna Ledbetter
Address: 130 W. Main St.
Telephone: 423.753.7568, 423.913.2205

Jonesborough Bed & Breakfast (c. 1848, Historic Marker #28)
Innkeepers: The Bledsoe Family
Address: 100 E. Woodrow Ave.
Telephone: 423.753.9923

Franklin House (c. 1840, Historic Marker #68)
Innkeepers: Charles & Dona Lewis
Address: 116 Franklin Ave.
Telephone: 423.753.3819

Aiken-Brow House (c.1850)
Innkeepers: Calvin & Ann Brow
Address: 104 3rd Ave., South
Telephone: 423.753.9440

Blair-Moore House (c. 1832, Historic Marker #17)
Innkeepers: Jack & Tami Moore
Address: 201 West Main Street
Telephone: 423.753.0044, 888.453.0044

Bugaboo Bed & Breakfast
Innkeepers: Lee & Nancy Hallberg
Address: 211 Semore Drive
Telephone: 423.753.9345

Rees-Hawley House (c. 1793, Historic Marker #30)
Innkeepers: R.I.C. & Marcy Hawley
Address: 114 E. Woodrow Ave.
Telephone: 423.753.8869

Old Yellow Vic (c. 1887)
Innkeeper: Sonya Stacy
Address: 411 W. Main St.
Telephone: 423.753.9558

Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center
Address: 117 Boone St.
Telephone: 423.753.1010

Midi: Southern Cross, Crosby, Stills and Nash

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© Jeannette Harris, July, 1999. All rights reserved.