Jonesborough Tennessee

Discover Jonesborough, Tennessee, Tennessee’s Oldest Town

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Jonesborough, Tennessee is a pet-friendly, small community just outside of the Tri-Cities area, which includes Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol. This is all located in the larger region of Northeast Tennessee. You can see everything we have done in the area in our Ultimate Guide of Northeast Tennessee!

This is a sponsored post with Northeast Tennessee. Opinions are 100% my own.

Jonesborough was originally founded in 1779 before Tennessee was ever a state. The town was named after Willie Jones who wanted to expand North Carolina further west and across the Appalachian Mountains.

Main Street, Jonesborough Tennessee

The town was later named Jonesboro, but since then was changed back to its original name of Jonesborough. In 1784, Jonesborough became the capital of the State of Franklin. The state was never recognized by Congress and it was eventually reclaimed by North Carolina.


Shopping in Jonesborough, Tennessee

I convince my friends to leave Boone Lake and head to Jonesborough, Tennessee to check it out. It is about 20 minutes from Boone Lake. We head downtown and park to start our walking tour of the historic town.

The Lollipop Shop

There are antique stores with multiple vendors and a varied selection of items from furniture to antique glassware. Jonesborough is not short on cute gift and holiday shops with unique items. After walking around Jonesborough, I remembered the storefront location of where my mother bought me my first formal dress for the 8th-grade dance.

The Corner Cup

Make sure you stop by The Corner Cup for a cup of coffee! The Corner Cup is a cute little coffee shop that also houses local artists and creatives selling and showing their pieces to the public. Here you will be able to find a great cup of coffee and unique hand made items for sale.

Jonesborough Tennessee
Creative fan lamps!

Tennessee Hills Distillery

Tennessee Hills Distillery

As you stroll around Jonesborough you head towards a stream that runs along the train tracks. Behind the railroad tracks, you will see a brick building. Tennessee Hils Distillery offers free tours and tastings. I can’t wait to try it the next time I am in the area! There was a line at the bar waiting for their shots! This is a really popular spot in Jonesborough!

East Tennessee Hemp Company

Hemp is a local crop, grown just down the road. They have everything from tinctures, backpacks and clothing to ice cream. I guess this replaced the Fried Ice Cream I got in Jonesborough as a kid! It is interesting to discuss the industry with the owners and learn about the number of products they can make with hemp.

East Tennessee Hemp Company

The Food in Jonesborough, Tennessee

Boone Street Market

Boone Street Market was started as a part of the Jonesborough Farmer’s Market. The Jonesborough Farmers Market opened for its first season in May of 2008. A non-profit market and restaurant, the Boone Street Market, provides a market for local farmers and fresh locally sourced foods for customers. All of the food has been sourced within 100 miles of Jonesborough.

Jonesborough Tennessee
Farmer’s Market in Jonesborough Tennessee

Located just off the main street in downtown Jonesborough, you will find unique and local food items for sale as well as a great restaurant. I think this is one of my favorite spots in Jonesborough! I wish every town had this type of market to support local farmers!

The idea of the non-profit was to allow the farmers and food artisans to be able to make the maximum return on the sale of their goods. The Farmer’s who sell here make more money since there is no middle man or reseller to drive the costs up and the profits down.

On the Menu

You have to try the watermelon rind salad! It was the perfect start to our dinner on a warm summer evening! Watermelon rinds are marinated in a vinaigrette dressing with red onions and grape tomatoes. I believe that was a sprig of mint as well. It was light and refreshing!

Watermelon Rind Salad
Watermelon Rind Salad

The next dish was the Beef Brisket with Hoe Cakes and beans served with a complementing wine. The Brisket was caramelized nicely and very tender.

Beef Brisket with Hoe Cakes and Beans

This was my first time trying a Hoe Cake and they were delicious! It is kind of like a corn muffin pancake! The chef drizzled a sauce on there that really kicked up the flavor. It was a nice change from the usual potatoes or rice!

The Executive Chef, Neal Smith, wants to serve authentic southern dishes like his grandmother made for him as a child growing up in Tennessee.

Chef Neal Smith is a local dedicated to Southern cooking!

Peanut Butter Silk Pie ended this perfect southern meal, a delectable combination of sweet and salty! The chef was not shy with the chocolate shavings either!

Ultimate Guide to Northeast Tennessee
Peanut Butter Silk Pie

History of Jonesborough, Tennessee

There is so much history for such a small little town! Jonesborough was originally in the Washington District. Jonesborough then became the capital of the State of Franklin which was never recognized by congress as an actual state. Later, Jonesborough became a part of North Carolina and eventually Tennessee.

The Washington District Statue in front of the courthouse.

The courthouse was built and that’s how it all started in Jonesborough, making it an official town in the area. They chose Jonesborough because of its centralized location to new settlements in the area.

The Ten Commandments still remain on the wall of the courthouse.

The Chester Inn

Chester Inn Jonesborough, TN

We took a tour with a local historian from the Chester Inn. She told us the vivid history of the Chester and how the renovation to the original state. The downstairs is now a museum!

We had such a great time on the Chester Inn Tour! The folks from Jonesborough and the Chester Inn were not only friendly but fun! They encouraged us and Bo to get into the character of the original settlers of Jonesborough!

Playing dress-up at the Chester Inn

Christopher Taylor House

The Christoper Taylor house was not originally located in this spot. Moved from its original spot a mile away to Main Street to prevent its demise and become a tourist attraction. Christopher Taylor came to the area to protect the residents of Jonesborough from Indian attacks.

Jonesborough Tennessee
Christopher Taylor House

Andrew Jackson was the most famous resident of this home. He practiced law here before moving on to Nashville. You will enjoy seeing an original settler’s cabin while touring Jonesborough!

The Abolition Publication

The Abolition Publications were the first publications of their kind standing for the abolition of slavery. A second publication started in Jonesborough and the two writers were bitter rivals. Some of the Jonesborough residents were vehemently against slavery. Elihu Embree published The Emancipator from April 1820 until his death.

Jonesborough Tennessee
First Abolition Publication

The publication originally started with 6 subscribers and eventually grew to 2000. His primary focus was to send the publication the state governors. They would not be open to these new ideas as they themselves owned slaves. There were many plantations with slaves working throughout the South. In Washington County, where Jonesborough is located, there were already several free black people.

One new thing I learned was that Elihu Embree actually still owned slaves! He married a woman who already owned slaves. They believe he struggled with the values he was unable to live up to.

The International Storytelling Center

The International Storytelling Center is dedicated to building a better world through storytelling. In 1973, the Center had its first storytelling festival.

Jonesborough Tennessee
Mary B Martin Storytelling Hall

You will find master storytellers who come here to grace its stage all year long.

The National Storytelling Festival has become America’s foremost storytelling showcase. Which started a national rebirth of storytelling allowing stories to be presented to future generations.

Jonesborough Tennessee's oldest Town

There is something for everyone in Jonesborough, Tennessee to enjoy! Let me know in the comments if you have been to Jonesborough! What was your favorite place to visit?

Check out Bristol, Tennesee and the Nascar race they host every year!

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115 responses to “Discover Jonesborough, Tennessee, Tennessee’s Oldest Town”

  1. Eva Avatar

    What a cool town. I lived in Nashville for many years, but have never been to Jonesborough.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Nashville is on my list! But I love those mountains! Tennessee is a great place to visit!

  2. Hera Avatar

    I would love to come back to TN to explore more places like this. The food looks so good and there’s so much to learn and do.

  3. Kristi @ Way Beyond The Norm Avatar
    Kristi @ Way Beyond The Norm

    What a quaint little town. Such a cute lollipop shop! But I’d love to spend some time at the farmers market.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It was all fun! Thanks, Kristi!

  4. Missy Avatar

    Jonesborough, Tennessee looks like a wonderful town to visit. We enjoy learning about places to add to your road trips and Jonesborough, Tennessee has been added. Thanks.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks, Missy! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  5. Dawnmarie Avatar

    We have been to a lot of places in Tennessee. However, I do not remember ever going here. What a neat place Jonesborough seems to be. I enjoy visiting places that are rich with their own history.

  6. Chris Avatar

    Great post, and great photos! I look forward to visiting Jonesborough next time I’m in that area of Tennessee.

  7. Pauline Avatar

    I love old towns. There is just something about them that always draws me in. This town looks so cute and eclectic.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Me too! I grew up in an old town so I love them.

  8. kmf Avatar

    I love all things history…such a comprehensive travel guide for this area…definitely would want to visit!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome! Thank you KMF!

  9. Susan Avatar

    Jonesborough looks like such a charming town to visit! Looks like you all had a wonderful time.

  10. Lori Nielsen Avatar
    Lori Nielsen

    It is so interesting to me to learn about the history of our country. I have never heard of the state of Franklin! The tour of Chester Inn looks fun!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      We had not either. There were a lot of great stories we heard on our tour.

  11. Lee Anne Avatar
    Lee Anne

    I’d love to check this town out! Great recap!!

  12. Julie Avatar

    This is definitely my kind of town to visit!!

  13. Cindy Avatar

    Jonesborough looks like such an interesting place to explore! I’d definitely enjoy a visit there.

  14. Lina Avatar

    What a cute town. I love learning about the history of a town.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It is so cute and has something for everyone Lina!

  15. Lisa Avatar

    The watermelon rind salad looks interesting….

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Lol, I thought so too and it was really good! Apparently quite popular in the south! Thanks Lisa!

  16. Karla Petersen Avatar
    Karla Petersen

    I LOVE history. What a treat this read was. Thanks.

  17. Christina Furnival | Real Life Mama Avatar
    Christina Furnival | Real Life Mama

    What a sweet and lovely town!

  18. Malia Avatar

    Not gonna lie, I think they should have some fried ice cream available in the hemp shop 😉 The peanut butter silk pie should take care of my sweet tooth though! I love the idea of a storytelling stage!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Me too, Malia! We will have to campaign for that fried ice cream!

  19. Kathy Avatar

    I love this. History of a town can be so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Heather Avatar

    What a darling town! I love everything about it. Tennessee had never been on my radar, but after reading all your posts, it really needs to be. Interesting that the Ten Commandments are still there. I would have thought someone would have complained by now! Is it still used as a courthouse?

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes, it is still a government building but I am not sure if they use it for trials. I think I saw another courthouse somewhere in town. Great question though! I will see if I can find out. Thank you Heather!

      1. Heather Avatar

        I have a thing for old courthouses. 🙂

  21. Ramae Avatar

    I’ve been to Nashville but no other places in Tennessee. I would love to spend some time touring the whole state. Memphis and Jonesborough are both high on my list. I love how one of the first words in your post was ‘pet-friendly.’ It’s one of the first things I look for now since I adopted Ziggy. Are dogs welcome at a lot of the places you visited? The Boone Street Market would be right up my alley, and that watermelon rind salad looks amazing. I am going to try to find a recipe for that while we still have watermelons here.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Jonesborough is very much pet-friendly. I know Johnson City is too. We walked through so many places and I would hesitate and no one cared. Very laid back, friendly people. I loved Boone Street Market. Jonesborough is a great little town. I would love to see pics of your salad!

  22. Maria Avatar

    I would thoroughly enjoy Jonesborough!

  23. judean Avatar

    I have never been to Tennessee let alone Jonesborough. This is great information filled with a ton of historicals!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome! I hope you get to go!

  24. Suzan Avatar

    What a fun town and that Watermelon Rind salad is one that will be made here next summer…just sayin’

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      You will love it Suzan!

  25. Melissa Avatar

    What great pictures! It looks like a very fun trip!!

  26. Jane Avatar

    What I love about the old towns is history and this place is nothing short of it. It reminded me of Union, SC (used to live there). Love visiting the old shops, the farmers markets and talking to the locals.

    The Distillery seems a perfect place to visit as well and maybe go for a tour.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I have been to Union when I lived in SC! I love the old South. So charming!

  27. Jen Avatar

    I would love to visit Tennessee someday. This town looks lovely – I hope to see it in person one day 🙂

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hope you do to Jen! Thank you!

  28. angela Avatar

    A quaint town with a lot of history, So great for you all to have access to so much there to adventure and enjoy. I really need to see more of this country – but darn day job gets in the way. haha

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hear ya! Long weekends are a great way to start!

  29. Lisa Manderino Avatar
    Lisa Manderino

    I love historical spots! I have not heard of this town, Tennessee is on my list but it will probably be the bigger cities first and then venture to smaller towns!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      There is a lot to do in TN!

  30. Haley Kelley Avatar
    Haley Kelley

    I have seen so many travel posts this week and I love it!! Can’t wait to go to some of these places!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome! I can’t wait to hear about it!

  31. Amy Avatar

    Tennessee is such an awesome state with so much preserved history. We’ve never been to Jonesborough but it definitely looks worthy of a visit. You had me at “brisket”–and “peanut butter silk pie”!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I love going there. You will be amazed at how famous it is for such a small town!

  32. Robin Avatar

    What a cute little town! We can’t wait to visit Tennessee!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I can’t wait to hear about it!

  33. Melissa Avatar

    So many fun and interesting places to visit in the United States!

  34. Kendra Avatar

    What a wonderful town! I love that you have such a precious memory of getting a dress there as a child. I’m dreaming of that watermelon rind salad now too. 🙂

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It was yummy and perfect on a summer day!

  35. Jody Avatar

    This was so cool I love hearing the history of old towns it’s so neat

  36. jen Avatar

    Love this post! I def want to visit it!!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      With your love for History you will totally dig it!

  37. Lisa Avatar

    We love Tennessee! This area will be going on our list. Thank you for sharing your adventures.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome Lisa! I am glad I could help!

  38. Matt Avatar

    I’ve never been to Tennessee, but I’ve always wanted to go. This post will come in handy when I finally go. Gotta try that brisket and hoe cakes too!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      My first hoecake ever and I think it was my favorite on the plate!

  39. Kirsten Alongi Avatar

    I love small Tennesee towns!!

  40. Dennis Avatar

    Beautiful town! Can’t wait to visit!

  41. T.M. Brown Avatar

    What a memory for you! I remember taking a stroll through my husband’s childhood neighborhood and listening to him go through the same kind of thoughts and reminiscing. This place in TN sounds like it really does have something for everyone, but I know we would love the great mountain views and streams. Thanks for sharing this great place with us!

  42. Mary Avatar

    Looks like a great town! I’m intrigued by the Lollipop Shop!

  43. Monica Avatar

    We have driven through Tennessee but never had the pleasure of staying. It looks like there is a lot to see. I hear the music and food is also very good.

  44. Brianna Avatar

    It looks so lovely. What a wonderful trip down memory lane for you.

  45. Rosanna Avatar

    I love visiting places with lots of history. I would also like to go back to Tennessee. Adding this to my list of places to go.

  46. Laura Avatar

    Looks like such a sweet town! Great post!

  47. jen Avatar

    This looks like my kind of travel! Super interesting!!!

  48. Michele Vadnais Avatar

    What a lovely little town! Thank you for sharing some of its highlights…and your memories!

  49. Laura Avatar

    I have been working on my Genealogy and my family traveled through TN. When I go to TN to do research, I will make a point to visit this town.

  50. Lauri Avatar

    I really enjoyed all the photos and the history. Thanks for sharing!

  51. Kristen Avatar

    Such interesting looking buildings and places! I would like to visit.

  52. Dominique Avatar

    Great post and pictures! There is a lot of great history there.

  53. Shirely Avatar

    It looks like I need to book a trip to Jonesborough!! Thanks for writing this and sharing your adventure.

  54. Susan Franklin Avatar
    Susan Franklin

    Some say you can never go back home – I’ve experienced that myself. You go back to your roots and the town is dismal, rundown and small. But, that looks far from the truth for your return visit. The home you grew up in looks great and the town is so quaint. What a lovely trip!

  55. Angela Greven Avatar

    What a beautiful town to grow up in! I would love to visit and enjoy all of the shops and historical homes, thank you for sharing your memories and the great photos too. 🙂

  56. Jocelyn Avatar

    I would love to visit Jonesborough! I love old historic house and towns with so much charm, character, and background.

  57. Shelly Bergman Avatar

    Oh, how I love Tennessee! I’m used to going to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but looks like I’ll have to plan a visit here!

  58. Tonya Mickelson Avatar

    Looks so cute. I’m sure it was bittersweet seeing your old home again.

  59. Leah Mullins Avatar

    This is a great post! I really love how you wove in some of your own memories…a very nice touch! I’m not even a Boomer, but I loved this post! 😉

  60. Katie Avatar

    What a cute town with a lot of history. Will definitely have to take a trip!

  61. Katie Avatar

    It’s such a cute little town! I’m adding it to my map notes for when we are in Tennessee!

  62. Junell DuBois Avatar
    Junell DuBois

    I love old towns with lots of history! They’re so fun to get lost in. And what special memories you must have there.

  63. Nikki Avatar

    I love little quaint towns. There is so much to explore and the ones like this are full of local history. You never know what you will find. So cool you found your childhood home too. Looks like you guys had a busy trip and I’m glad you enjoyed it

  64. Brittany Avatar

    What a gorgeous city!

  65. Molly Callister Avatar

    I love small towns! What a fun place.

  66. Nicki Avatar

    What a neat place!! Thank you for sharing!

  67. Holly Bird Avatar

    I love all your pictures and the history and beauty of Jonesborough is something I would love to see one day!!

  68. Missy Avatar

    Sounds like a wonderful time revisiting home.

  69. Lara Avatar

    So quaint! Beautiful. thanks for shining some light on Jonesborough!

  70. TinaFis018909037 Avatar

    What a cute little town, I may have to find my way there!

  71. Gennel zimmerman Avatar
    Gennel zimmerman

    Hey there Born to be Boomers,
    Jonesborough also hosts the annual National Storytelling Festival every October. Professional storytellers come to tell tales, some true, some not….family histories, old friends with character, the stories are as varied as you can imagine being on a front porch in Jonesborough or another mountain town as a youngster. Family fun. Amazing time….. It is the best and most fun weekend you can imagine, and you will want to return to sweet lil Jonesborough every year for the fun. HIGHLY recommend.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I saw that when we were there! A great thing for grandparents to do with their kids! Thanks for the reminder!

  72. Pam Avatar

    So interesting! I love learning the history of a town.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      And it is a pretty cool little town. My friend has lived on Boone Lake for 13 years and did not know it even existed!

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