KINGSPORT — The 200-year-old Netherland Inn will reopen its doors for the season on May 4 with an exciting celebration of music, food and living history on the grounds of the historic property.
Festivities, which begin at 10 a.m., include a bluegrass concert on the lawn, Celtic harpist, Native Americans, Civil War re-enactors and regional artists and craftsmen.
This will also be the public's first opportunity to see the new Museum of Pioneer Transportation, housed in the Hal T. Spoden Bank Barn.
Since its construction more than 200 years ago, Netherland Inn has hosted countless weary travelers, journeying west by stagecoach and flatboat. On Saturday, May 4, after a long winter's rest, the historic site will throw open its doors yet again, ushering in the 2013 season. Visitors are invited to stop by Netherland Inn for food, music and a chance to travel back in time to Kingsport's earliest days.
The Possum Hunters Bluegrass Band from Chattanooga will headline the day's free entertainment on the lawn behind the Inn, beginning at noon. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Also appearing will be Celtic harpist and singer Sandra Parker of Abingdon. Entertainment is sponsored by the Hertz Corp.
Members of the Remnant Nation of Yuchi Indians will set up a hunting and gathering camp on the premises and demonstrate cooking, soap making, tool making (arrowhead making, etc.) and share their legends and culture. This is a great opportunity for children of all ages to learn about the aboriginal occupants of this area.
Living history interpreter and Saltville native Jim Bordwine will demonstrate salt making, boiling brine from Saltville in a large kettle over an open fire, following a technique hundreds of years old.
Colonel John S. Mosby Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans re-enactors will be on hand to conduct a flag-raising ceremony and demonstrate camp life, close order drill and vintage firearms.
Also on display will be ledgers and artifacts from the King's Boat Yard (1802-1816) and the George Hale's Boatyard Store. Guests can visit a replica of the flatboats that navigated the Holston River, carrying salt and other goods west to Nashville and on down the rivers to the mighty Mississippi, and see an authentic reproduction of a stagecoach that might have traveled the Great Stage Road in the days when Richard Netherland owned the three-story inn and operated it as a stagecoach stop.
The day will also feature the opening of the Museum of Pioneer Transportation, which features several dioramas of early Kingsport: wagons, buggies and coaches dating from 1780 and a vignette of the George Hale Boat Yard Store.
Kids will also have the opportunity to see how archeology was used to find the location of the old bank barn when they peer into two open trenches and see, first-hand what scientists found. The Hal T. Spoden Bank Barn, which houses the museum, was constructed with funds from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the city of Kingsport.
Admission to the event is free. A lunch of soup beans, cornbread, slaw, hot dogs, corn dogs, chips, cookies and drinks will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at a cost of $5.
Tours of the inn will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m. The tours are free, but donations are gratefully accepted.
Netherland Inn is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization. All funds raised go toward the maintenance of this treasured piece of local history.
Netherland Inn is the nation's only registered historical site that served as both a stage stop and a boat yard. From the 1760s, travelers came by wagon down the Island Road to the river bank where they built boats and migrated west.
Originally built by William King between 1802 and 1808 for the sole purpose of developing a boat yard from which to ship his salt, Netherland Inn was sold at a sheriff's sale in 1818 to Richard Netherland. Netherland immediately procured a stage contract and established the three-story building as an inn and tavern on the Great Stage Road, the main route to Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.
Netherland Inn became established as a popular stagecoach inn hosting many famous guests, including Presidents Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson and James K. Polk.
The historic site was purchased by the Netherland Inn Association in 1968 and restored in the early 1970s. Netherland Inn is located at 2144 Netherland Inn Road in Kingsport. Parking is available behind the inn and in the Lilac Street lot beside it.
For additional information, call (423) 677-3263 or (423) 246-1104, or visit the inn's website at www.netherlandinn.com.