Washington County VA

Giving history and heritage

Historic Jonesborough gift

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. - It's a picturesque small town that's basing its future, in part, on its history.

Its been almost a half-century since folks in Jonesborough decided to use the town's heritage and history to attract tourists. And now there's another historic jewel that could help that effort.

Downtown Jonesborough, even today, is a picture postcard of Tennessee's oldest town, but the preservation of its historical district took work that continues with the town's Heritage Alliance. "Heritage Alliance, as we are today, was actually created in 2001 through the merger of three much older organizations including The Jonesborough Civic Trust, The Jonesborough-Washington County History Museum and The Historic Jonesborough Foundation," Alliance executive director Deborah Montanti explained.

The downtown was included in the National Registry of Historic Places as far back as 1969. The potential of that designation was also recognized. "Folks who were in the community did recognize early on the importance of saving the historical fabric and the architecture in the town and the ambiance that would result from that," she said.

Among those early pioneers of saving the towns historic integrity was the owners of the sweet shop, formerly a Masonic Lodge, Bernard and Audrey Kaiman.

"They recognized what it could be and immediately joined with other folks who were coming to the same conclusion," she says.

Now they want to give back by donating that same building to the Heritage Alliance.

It will be decided at the next Alliance meeting of whether to except their offer. A couple continuing the give a gift of conservation and preservation that brings tens of thousands to the little town each year with a common word these days, heritage tourism.

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