It’s sad how you can live in a state most of your life and never explore half of its eccentricities, beauty and quirks. This is my relationship with Jonesborough: a missed connection—until now.
In fact, I didn’t even know the lovely town existed until I wrote my Tennessee Curiosities book last winter and included the famed International Storytelling Festival.
And then, months later, SVV and I found ourselves there, staying in the heart of “Tennessee’s most historic town” for my good friend Lahla’s wedding.
And it is historic; that’s not simply a misnomer.
Jonesborough was founded way back in 1779, before our little state was, in fact, even a state. Granted, it was part of North Carolina first, and then the State of Franklin, and eventually fell under Tennessee’s ownership.
It’s also considered to be at the heart of the Abolitionist Movement within the Confederate states, and The Emancipator was the first publication dedicated toward doing away with slavery.
We only got in with enough time before the fete to (unsuccessfully) sleep off our honeymoon jetlag, and then the party bus picked us up and deposited us all at the wedding site. So we rose early at 7am the following morning, when all the town was still asleep, and explored the area by our favorite means: on-foot photo tour.
Unfortunately—or maybe, fortunately for my wallet?—all the shops and cafes were closed. It was a Sunday, after all, and if it’s one thing that’s ubiquitous in this part of the world, it’s observing the Sabbath.
(Too bad I’d just gotten married; otherwise, I might have scooped up this beaut! …if I were getting married in 1945.)
The downtown is quaint and old school, and exactly what I think outsiders look for when they want the romanticized view of small town living in the South. (Just don’t look too far beyond the historic part, for fear that the shiny veneer will be cracked wide open. Get back on the main highway, and it loses a good deal of its charm. You’ve been forewarned…)
Couldn’t it just serve as the set for a summer romance a la Hope Floats or Where the Heart Is?
There’s a distinct possibility that, one day, SVV and I could find ourselves back living in Nashville (a few years down the road, not in the too-near future). If that’s the case, I can’t wait for all the small town exploring ahead of us—not just in Tennessee, but across the Southern states.