Historic Washington County Courthouse in Jonesborough, TN
Photo Credit: Andrew Saucier

Jonesborough: Tennessee's Oldest Town Has a Vibrant Story to Tell

Nicknamed "Tennessee's Oldest Town," Jonesborough was founded in 1779 when Tennessee was still claimed by North Carolina.

Some folks whisper that the ghost of Andrew Jackson can be seen wandering Jonesborough's streets or coming and going from Major Christopher Taylor's cabin, just blocks from the Washington County Courthouse. And it very well may be true. He practiced law here and was a judge. Several of the early exploits that make up Jackson's larger-than-life legend unfolded here - including at least one of his bloodless duels and the rescuing of a prized race horse from a burning barn. And the history of this place does not stop at Old Hickory.


(Washington County Courthouse) 

Nicknamed "Tennessee's Oldest Town," Jonesborough was founded in 1779 when Tennessee was still claimed by North Carolina, and it was the capital for the failed 14th State of the U.S., known as the State of Franklin.

Located less than two hours from Knoxville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina, Jonesborough is a history buff's dream town.

Aside from Jackson and the State of Franklin, the Jonesborough Historic District, which is essentially the entire downtown area, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 for the simple reason that building after building lining the streets was built circa 1800-something and remains standing there today, preserved and protected by a vigilant Historic Zoning Commission.


A leisurely walking tour of downtown is the only way to truly appreciate these old buildings, both for what they were in the past and what they are today.


(Blaire-Moore House) 

The place isn't a museum, untouchable and roped off. It is a thriving commercial district of cafes, boutiques, a repertory theatre, churches, ice cream parlors, antique malls, bakeries, coffee shops and a bed and breakfast.

There's even the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall to visit, a place dedicated to the Appalachian tradition of telling stories as a means of cultural preservation and learning.

So park your car anywhere within a few blocks of the courthouse. Sit down to lunch. Come down on a Sunday for services. Read the historical markers and plaques. Search the verandas for Andrew Jackson's ghost.

Whatever you do, though, be sure you aren't in any rush.

Jonesborough has been right where it is for a long time, and it has a story to tell.

All you have to do is be willing to listen.

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