Wallace Memorial group visits Dandridge

Used with permission from Carolyn Jensen

The Spirit Lifters widows’ group from Wallace Memorial Baptist Church had an exciting adventure trip to Dandridge to have lunch in the lovely, historical Shepard Inn and to tour the historical area of Dandridge and shop in the cute little shops.  The Shepard Inn began between 1818 and 1823 as a 2-story log house and stagecoach stop for weary travelers.  Some came by boat, some by horseback, some by stagecoach and today by car.

Owner of the Shepard Inn, Jim Everett, gave us fascinating information about the Inn which had been a tavern, an inn, a family home and now a bed and breakfast.  Touring the beautiful blue and white Victorian Bed and Breakfast allowed us to look in all the rooms.  Knowing that three Tennessee governors and presidents — Andrew Johnson, Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk — have been guests there makes it so interesting.

Mr. Everett explained, “To have a 200-year-old structure in such good shape is unusual because few buildings that date back to the early 1800s are still in good condition and in use today.”

Shepard Inn has a history and legacy that is known far and wide and is important to the local community and to global travelers.  As he told us, they have guests from all over the world. He and his wife, Karen, have been actively involved in county-wide historical preservation and have been recognized by several organizations in East Tennessee for their dedicated work.  The Everetts bought the house in 2007 and spent three years on restoration.

Jim Everett said his motivation for taking on restoring the Inn was because it was a wonderful service to the community and for the history he was working to preserve.

Serving a delicious, home-style lunch were his staff and his daughter Judith Moody, who made sure we were served well and had a great leisurely lunch and fellowship time.  You felt like you were a part of history and that if the walls could talk there would be some outstanding stories.   It gave you time to reflect on life in the past and the beacon of hospitality the Inn has been over the years.

The house is furnished with period pieces that have been in the house for years, along with some beautiful modern decor to complement the historical furniture.  Beautiful old mantels frame fireplaces of long ago and are decorated for the season.  Much of the old wallpaper is there which sets the color scheme for the rooms.  Many of the floors are original pine wood.  The Everetts have done such a good job in preserving the beauty and character of the home as historically accurate as possible.

The next part or our exciting day in Dandridge was a talk by Bob Jarnagin, who is the county historian and a wealth of information.  His enthusiasm kept us so fascinated by the history right in our midst.  He explained that Dandridge was begun in 1792, the same date as Knox County.  He told us that Dandridge is the middle name of Martha Washington, the wife of our first president, and is the only town in the U.S. named for her.  He talked about the courthouse next door which is one of the oldest courthouses still being used in the nation.

Jarnigan spoke about the graveyard between Shepard Inn and the courthouse which has some of the legendary folks of the area buried there.  He encouraged us to visit the museum in the courthouse.  Many of our group walked the few blocks around the historical area and the shops, while some chose to sit on the Shepard Inn porch while taking in the beautiful day and the lovely garden.

It was a rewarding day and as we left we drove on top of the dike which protects Dandridge from the waters of Douglas Lake for a stunning view.  Then our wonderful bus driver and Pastoral Care Minister, Rev. Kent Williams, drove us around the lake for some snapshots.  As we drove home, so many of us marveled that we did not know this place was here and what a joy it was to spend a day enjoying the beauty and history of this special area.