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Yancey's Tavern springs back to life

Susan Kendrick Lauhoff • Sep 14, 2012 at 10:32 AM

The love for historical homes runs deep in Rann Vaulx, who grew up in one of them in Pine Bluff, Ark.

With a Ph.D. from Duke and a new job with Eastman, Vaulx continued to admire historical homes in the Tri-Cities. So, when he learned of the possible demolition of Yancey’s Tavern, he bought the nationally-registered historic site in a 2004 auction to keep it from its certain demise. He "couldn’t bear to see it destroyed."

Vaulx knew it was a risk.

"It could have been the biggest colony of termites for all I knew."

However, after a year of restoration, the home that was originally built in 1779 came alive again after being boarded up for 42 years. The landmark has a storied history and was frequently used for the Sullivan County Commissioners' meetings before John Yancey bought it in 1784. It was a popular spot through the 1800s and when ownership passed to John Shaver in the 1840s, it became an inn and post office on the stagecoach route between The Netherland Inn in Kingsport and Deery Inn in Blountville. A third John - John Spahr - purchased the house with 230 acres from the Shavers in 1889 and farmed it until most of the property was bought by East Lawn Cemetery in the early 1950s.

Located at 6290 Chestnut Ridge Road in Kingsport and filled with period reproductions, Yancey’s Tavern is used by various churches and "groups dedicated to historic preservation, patriotism or genealogy" and is shown by appointment only.

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