Our Roots to our Future

Key to our Future

Corrie Ten Boom quoteI find this quote from Corrie Ten Boom interesting. Corrie (15 April 1892 – 15 April 1983) was a Dutch watchmaker. She with her father, Casper, sister, Betsie and other family members helped many Jews escape the Nazis during the Holocaust of World War II by hiding them in their home. In February 1944, an informant told the Gestapo of the ten Booms work, the entire family and more were arrested.  Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were eventually sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany. While there they endured horrific atrocities. Just moments before her death in December 1944, Betsie reminded Corrie: “There is no pit is so deep, that He is not deeper still.”

Corrie survived the camp and went on to care for others and tell her family’s story across the world. She would confess that it was their Christian faith that carried them through the tragedy, hatred and cruelty they knew during those years of imprisonment. After all that, how could she say that her memories (the pain, the struggle, the hatred, murder, beatings and more) were a key to the future? How could she even focus on a future? She is correct, you know. Memories are not just for the past. Memories fuel the present and point the pathway to the future.

Red Boiling Springs is full of memories. Her past as a resort/spa town still echoes within the hills and hollows that surround her. The mission of Vision 2020 is to use memories to point the way to the future of our community. “Honoring Our Past, While Looking to Our Future” is Vision 2020’s theme.

The annual Folk Medicine Festival shares those myriad of memories as we support our community with celebrating natural remedies and homemade crafts and music and storytelling. Mark your calendar for June 5, 2021. Walk the streets of town, visit with herbalists, organic gardeners, crafters, sit a spell and listen to some music – that’s the Folk Medicine Festival!

Have you read “Simple Pleasures: A History of the Resort at Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee”? Based on the Master’s Thesis of Dr. Jeanette Keith, the book retells the story of Red Boiling Springs during the 1920s and 1930s. It is more than a history book; it is a book of memories. The sale of the book helps in raising funds for the restoration work on the old bank building in town. The book was recently printed for the third time. It is available at Grandpa’s House and the Step Back in Time shops.

Vision 2020 and their partners all know the value, the preciousness of memories: Memories and More – located in the Hillwood shopping area offers antiques, furniture, glassware, lamps and more. Visit before you drop by at https://www.facebook.com/memories.more.127

The RBS Florist – also located in the Hillwood shopping area provides flower arrangements for all memory-making occasions. Visit them at www.facebook.com/Red-Boiling-Springs-Florist-153497152042/

Grandpa’s House – located on the Ritter Farm, Oak Grove Road just outside Red Boiling Springs is:  “in the memory business: honoring old ones and creating new ones” Check out their annual fall event, “How’d dey do dat? Day”, the first Saturday in October each year. See more about Grandpa’s House at www.grandpas-house.com

Watson Woodworks – Del Watson has more than 40 years’ experience working with wood, building fine furniture and cabinets. Located at 2217 Oak Grove Road, check out the memories Del has created in wood at www.watson-woodworks.com

Memories abound at the three historic hotels still operating in town:                Armour’s Red Boiling Springs Hotelwww.armourshotel.com

Donoho Hotelwww.thedonoho.com

Thomas Housewww.thomashousehotel.com

The Step Back in Time Shop offers two novels using the history of Red Boiling Springs as a backdrop for their stories:

Local Authors

The Fiddler – by Dale Meador, tells of Rosie, the Fiddler, on his journey from farm boy (with little chance of living a life different from his parents) to that of a much sought after entertainer. He becomes one of the performers in the hotels of Red Boiling Springs. Dipping into the days of split loyalties, The Fiddler gives the reader a look at a time when honor and character were valued.

Paradise – by Don Green, set during the heyday of Red Boiling Springs’ resort days weaves much of the history of the town with a tale of intrigue, greed and jealousy. The story uses some of the historic sites still standing and in use in the small town known for its healing waters.

Someone has said: “Memories are special moments that tell our story.” Some tragic, some magnificent, some inspirational, some hum-drum . . . all add to the story of our lives. Come make memories in Red Boiling Springs soon.

What a Ride!

May 2020

Wow, what a wild ride we have been on for the last six months!  Tornadoes, world-wide virus pandemic, more tornadoes, quarantine stay-at-home restrictions, earthquakes, panic and fear have fueled this roller coaster called 2020.  Only one thing is certain in these upset, confusing times – we will survive! Most of our citizens are resilient. Even more importantly, most of us care about the other guy. We choose what is best for our communities.

In about a month we will mark the 41st anniversary of the June 23rd flood that nearly brought an end to our town. “Red Boiling Springs lies in a steep, narrow valley, through the bottom of which runs Salt Lick Creek. The center of the community also lies along the creek bottom. The head waters of Salt Lick Creek lie approximately four miles south of the center of town. At least nine smaller creeks drain into the Salt Lick before being joined by Witcher Hollow Brook near the town’s center. From there, Salt Lick Creek flows northward into the Barren River in southern Kentucky. During the early morning of June 23, 1969, very heavy rainfall pounded a large area of south-central Kentucky and extreme northern middle Tennessee.

“Overnight, thunderstorms formed over the area. The center of this line of storms moved very little – only 15 miles during the six-hour period from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. (Smith 1999). This allowed for a large rainfall accumulation.

“Flooding of Salt Lick Creek caused the drowning deaths of two young children in the eastern Macon County town, along with some $2 million dollars in property damage. The USDA Soil Conservation Service reported 7.95 inches of rainfall at Red Boiling Springs in the five hours ending at 8:30 a.m. An unofficial report claimed that nearly ten inches of rain fell over the watershed of Salt Lick Creek within this period.” – Mark A. Rose, Meteorologist, National Weather Service, Old Hickory, TN

Red Boiling Springs was declared “a federal disaster area” and the town received some funds from the federal government to help with its recovery. We still feel the effects of that storm. Other floods have come (2010 for instance) but with the construction of water sheds in the area the impact of the waters was limited. The Bilbrey Park was named in memory of the two young sisters (Renah and Jennifer) who died in the flood. The loss of these young lives, homes and business was a price from which Red Boiling Springs has had a slow time to rise above.

Vision 2020 believes Red Boiling Springs still has a lot to offer to its citizens and guests. Once known as the place “where the healing waters flow”, the small town feel of a peaceful retreat from the busyness of life is the healing Red Boiling Springs still offers.

The Donoho Hotel has become a peaceful respite, a beautiful entertainment and destination wedding venue.

The Armour’s Hotel has one of the few mineral bath houses still in operation in Tennessee offering massages by appointment.

The Thomas House is known for its dinner theatre and ghost hunt weekends.

The city’s annual Folk Medicine Festival (postponed to June 5, 2021) invites visitors to learn the folk ways of crafts, arts, gardening and home medicinal remedies. The restoration work on one of the few remaining historic buildings in the downtown area, the RBS Bank building, continues. The goal is to soon open a home to honor the storied history of Red Boiling Springs. Each July, an old-fashioned Ice Cream Social and Auction is hosted by V2020 to help raise funds for the restoration efforts. Local runners Cathie and Troy Johnson are honored each November with the Cathie & Troy Johnson 5K Walk/Run.

The Step Back in Time shop offers locally produced items including: jams, jellies, BBQ sauce, CDB oils, soaps, lotions and handcrafts of all kinds. Step in sometime, now open Fridays Noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The shop is anxious to begin offering classes and the Red Pump Café Songwriters and Storytellers Nights later this year.

Hang on tight as we finish this wild 2020 roller coaster ride!

Giving: The Big Payback

April 2020

Each year, 988 Middle Tennessee nonprofits from 34 counties participate in The Big Payback, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. This year’s 24-hour giving challenge begins 6:00pm May 6th.

The Big Payback was launched by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to help local non-profits in their fundraising efforts. The Foundations offers incentives and prizes throughout this one-day effort. You can learn more about the Big Payback on the Foundation’s site: https://www.thebigpayback.org/about

With all that has happened in our state and country over the last few months, why bother folks to make a donation to Vision 2020 Inc and our efforts to restore the old bank building in town to house a heritage museum? We know you have challenges with possibly being laid off work and not able to leave home for business, work or fun. You may be wondering how you will pay this month’s mortgage or rent payment or pay for utilities and groceries.

Vision 2020 understands those challenges. Many of our volunteers are sheltered at home. It is certainly a blow to our bank accounts and egos to be told we are “non-essential”.  We understand the necessity for these precautions. We have had to close the Step Back in Time Shop. We have postponed and even cancelled many of our events (Easter Egg Hunt, Red Pump Café, Folk Medicine Festival, classes at the shop).

Yet, we still have before us our goal of completing the restoration project and opening the heritage museum. You can still be of help, even in these trying times. Vision 2020 is asking all our friends and neighbors, far and wide, to donate through the Big Payback effort $10. If everyone who loves Red Boiling Springs and her history would donate $10 on May 6th, we could reach some of the prize/incentive levels the Community Foundation has set. Thus, “earning” more dollars for the restoration efforts.

Please join us beginning 6pm May 6th through 6pm May 7th in the Big Payback for the Red Boiling Springs Heritage Museum. Here’s the link: https://www.thebigpayback.org/vision2020inc

Pay It Forward with the Big Payback!


Where Healing Waters Flow

March 2020

“Red Boiling Springs’ growth as a resort was built on the reputation of its abundant mineral waters. In the 1920s, there were said to be over 50 springs in the Red Boiling Springs area, and five different kinds of water, from “freestone” or plain water to the “Double and Twist”, a highly mineralized sulfur water” (Simple Pleasures, page 24).

Red Boiling Springs celebrates its colorful history as a health/spa resort town in the 1920s and 1930s each year with its annual Folk Medicine Festival.  Held the first Saturday in June, the festival began in 1985. After a 10 year hiatus, Vision 2020 Inc began hosting the festival in 2012.  “The goal of the festival is to pass on knowledge, skills and traditions that ensure the survival of folk activities, from old-time medicine and natural healing arts to those arts and crafts that demonstrate the traditional, handmade way of not only creating art but useful household items.”  These activities and knowledge are part of the foundation on which Red Boiling Springs was built.

FMF 1995 t-shirtThe Arts and Crafts Market; sponsored by the Macon County Arts Council; features woodcrafters, jewelry makers, soap and lotion makers.  You might visit with a spinner at her wheel or listen to the calming sounds of a Native American playing his flute.  The Arts and Crafts Market is located in the Palace Park.  Live entertainment and the food court are offered in the parking lot of the Palace Care and Nursing Home across from the Arts and Crafts Market.

Another project of Vision 2020 Inc is restoring the historic bank building on the corner of Market and Main Streets.  The building will be open during the festival to show the progress of the restoration work and to display several items that tell the story of Red Boiling Springs and its history as a health resort town.

Educational presentations have always been a part of the Folk Medicine Festival. Every effort is made to invite experienced experts to share their knowledge with festival attendees.  Speakers Hall is in the classroom of the Step Back in Time shop on Main Street just down the street from the Arts and Crafts Market. Speakers include: Jeff Poppen, the Barefoot Farmer; Terri Tomac, Melissa Falls, Alara Ridge Farms and Darlene Gunther. Check out the Folk Medicine Festival Facebook page for more information on these presenters. There is a $2 fee to attend each session.

The Village is a special part of the festival. Located behind the old bank building, demonstrators will show how they create various historical activities from blacksmithing to basket weaving and fabric weaving. The second live entertainment stage is in the Village, featuring acoustic/folk/country/gospel fare.  Bring your lawn chair and come sit a spell.

Honoring one of the oldest traditions is the Festival Quilt Show in the fellowship room of the church of Christ facility just down from the Village.  Sponsored by Citizens Bank, quilts from the surrounding area are on display. Come and vote for your favorite.  Entrance fee to the Quilt Show is $2.

The festival covers most of the historic downtown area of Red Boiling Springs. You will want to save time to visit the three historic hotels in town: the Armour’s Red Boiling Springs Hotel, the Donoho and the Thomas House.  Each hotel has its own personality to enjoy. The Armour features the only functioning historic mineral bath house left in the state. The Donoho, the oldest of the three and a venue for several concerts a year, has recently had a beautiful face lift. The Thomas House is known for their antiques, live dinner theater and ghost hunt weekends.

Come spend the day – June 6, 2020 – in beautiful, historic Red Boiling Springs, TN!!

“Americans were less driven and business-oriented, and more willing to lay aside work for play; they exhibited ‘a power to draw happiness from simple and innocent pleasures.’” – Foster Dulles, A History of Recreation


February: The Month of Love

February 2020

Come February, when I was in grade school, we would create a large, highly decorated with hearts envelope to attach to the front of our desks. Our work of art was to a receptacle for Valentine wishes from our classmates. After school on that day closest to the 14th, we could take our stuffed envelopes home for further inspection. Oooo-eck, there is one from the creepy boy that teased all the girls in class. You might find one from the popular girl in class. “I didn’t even know she knew my name.” Some were handmade and some Valentines came from Ben Franklin’s Five and Dime store. Some had a sappy rhyme and others held a piece of that hard, heart-shaped candy with a sappy rhyme on it.

In February, you hear that little four letter word bandied about quite a bit – LOVE. It is used for almost anything and anyone for whom we have a fondness, consideration or passion. I love pizza. I love my old blue Dodge pickup truck. I love the Spring. I love my Mother. I love Miss Belva’s coconut cake. I love bluegrass music. I love my coffee – morning, noon and night. I love my cat. I love the mountains. I love soccer. I love fishing. I love the Lady Vols. I love . . .

It has been 10 years since Vision 2020 members fell in love with the idea of not only restoring a historic building in our town but preserving the heritage of Red Boiling Springs. Depending largely on volunteer labor and the financial support of local businesses, friends and neighbors, the restoration work has been slow. One completion deadline has been missed. Plans are for a “soft opening” on June 6, 2020 – Folk Medicine Festival day in Red Boiling Springs. Please mark your calendars to be with us on that day.

How do we keep the love, the passion, the dream alive of opening the Red Boiling Springs Heritage Museum?

First, we need to answer the question: “Why?” Why save this old building and our community’s heritage? Why preserve the link between our past and our future? Our past, for better or for worse, is the foundation of our identity. As I often say, “How do we know where we are going if we do not know from where we have come?”

Second, communication is a must. Keep up with V2020 activities and plans by attending their monthly meetings. V2020 meets the 4th Tuesday of each month (except December) in the dining room of the Armour’s Hotel beginning at 7pm. Check our Facebook page and webpage – www.vision2020inc.com Let us know what you would like to see happen in our community. What is important to you?

Third, this dream requires a passionate commitment. It has been ten years and progress has been slow but don’t let that diminish your love for the preservation of your town’s history. This effort needs more than – “That’s a good idea. Good luck.” It needs folks to go the extra mile and volunteer to hammer a nail or purchase an item or four at the Step Back in Time Shop.

Fourth, say “Thank you”. Preserving our town’s history is one way to express our gratitude to our ancestors. With the same appreciation, we should be aware and expressing our thankfulness as often as we can. No matter what one’s involvement is in this dream of a RBS Heritage Museum – thank you!

If we don’t care about our past, we cannot hope for the future.

Jackie Kennedy at Union StationJacqueline Kennedy Onassis was instrumental in the preservation of many historical structures in New York City. Following President Kennedy’s assassination, she moved to New York and partnered with the Municipal Art Society to create the Committee to Save Grand Central Station.

Good-Night, John Boy

January 2020

The Waltons was a television series broadcast during the 1970s. It was based on the childhood recollections of Earl Hamner. It is a story about the trials and triumphs of a multi-generational family during the Great Depression and World War II eras in rural Virginia. Each week, we were invited into their story of struggle and growing up. The storylines did not just involve the family of 11 individuals but their interaction with the folks in their small mountain community: the Baldwin Sisters, Preacher Fordham, the storekeeper/postmaster Ike and his wife Cora and local likable ne’er do well, Yancy Tucker.

John-Boy wrote in his journal early on in the series: Waltons’ Mountain was an everlasting presence in our lives. Whenever I could, when I was growing up there during the Depression years, I would climb its slopes. Up there I could get lost in dreams, dreams of becoming a writer, of becoming a man. I knew no writers, so I had no writer to model myself after; but as a boy aspiring to manhood, I had only to follow the footsteps of a remarkable father.

From the journals of creator Earl Hamner, the episodes of the television drama were created. Thus, preserving memories of the life and times of that period in the history of our nation. Nearly ten years ago the folks of Vision 2020 took on the task finding a home for all the family stories and history of our beautiful little community. To that end, the old RBS bank building was purchased and work began to restore the long empty historical structure to its glory days of the 1920s and 1930s.

Progress has been slower than the group would have liked. First, work was completed on the exterior brick and the roof. On the inside, the entire floor in the little building had to restored and repaired. Repair work on the walls has begun. 2019 saw two of the building’s windows repaired and refitted in the front of the building.

As it was last year, at the Folk Medicine Festival in June the building will be open for folks to see the progress being made. Displays of some of what the committee is hoping to house in the building soon will be available to visitors as well.

The financing for the restoration work has been achieved through the generous support of local businesses and individuals. Much of the work has been done through volunteer labor. Vision 2020 is determined to see this building restoration completed and a heritage museum open for all to enjoy as soon as we can. This is a community-wide effort. You can be a part of it.

You may make a donation through our Go Fund Me page. This past year, we printed a cookbook that includes historic recipes from the area, a little history and a whole of love. We have ordered our third printing of “Simple Pleasures” that tells the story of Red Boiling Springs in its heydays of the 1920s and 1930s. Both of these are available at the Step Back in Time Shop in town. Each summer we hold an old fashion ice cream social and auction. Come judge the ice cream, make a purchase of the auction items or donate something to be auctioned.

Before all the “John-Boys” of our town out there are gone, we need to capture their stories in writing. Do you have any old documents or other historic items that tell the story of RBS? Put them aside, when the museum is open, if you will loan them, we will find a place for them. There is a place for you in this effort.

Come see us on June 6th during the Folk Medicine Festival!

Home for the Holidays

December 2019

I usually write my blog in the gazebo of the Step Back in Time shop on one of the days I volunteer as a sales clerk. Although I would love to be covered up with customers and guests, many days I am alone in the shop. SBiT is not the kind of shop that has a lot of customers daily. Maybe if we carried milk, bread and toilet paper, at least on snow-forecasted days we would have a rush of customers. The guests that do come by are always a joy to visit with as we talk about the story of Red Boiling Springs. Drop in anytime – Thursday and Friday 12pm to 5pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm.

The shop will be closed for the holidays the last two weeks of the year but you still have time to pick up some special homemade and handmade gift items for your loved ones.

As I sit here looking through the beautiful painted window with holly, ivy, snowflakes and a bright yellow Christmas bell, I am recalling the Christmases passed that my family and I spent just outside the town limits on Grandpa’s farm. Grandpa’s farm is on Oak Grove Road. He purchased the farm at Christmas 1944. He moved his family of three sons and one daughter from Hermitage Springs by wagon on a cold December day.

Mother remembers turning up Oak Grove Road where it ends in town. That day the Moss Hotel stood in the lot on the right. Today, our town library houses stories of days past for all to share. Mother remembers being awed by the outdoor tall staircase that went from the ground to the second level of the hotel. She had never seen a two-story building like the grand Moss Hotel in her young life. Funny, the things we remember from our childhood.

Grandpa’s house is a small 4-room house. When I was a kid, there was a dog-trot that ran through the middle of the house linking the front porch to the back porch. To the right was the bedroom where Uncle George and Uncle Jack slept. It became our bedroom when we visited. The two boys were on a feather mattress on the floor. The uncles bunked together, leaving the second bed for Mother and Big Daddy. The three sisters shared a feather mattress on a roll-away bed frame. All beds were covered with a half dozen quilts and an old army blanket Uncle George brought home from his years of service during the Korean War. There was a secret to sleeping warm and cozy in a poorly insulated old farm house with the only source of warmth being the fireplace in the parlor.

To the left of the uncles’ bedroom door was the door to the parlor. Here is where Grandpa and Uncle Willard slept, a bed in each corner. The warmest room was reserved for the daddy and the youngest of the brood. Down in the evening following supper, we all set around the fireplace. No television or any hand held electronic devices to entertain. We told stories. Fortunately, Big Daddy and my uncles were good storytellers. Mother and Grandpa usually sat quiet with sometimes looks of laughter and other times, looks of disbelief of their faces.

We kids would play jacks or Crazy Eights or Old Maid in the floor. Although, Grandpa didbuilding a wagon not really approve of the card playing, he did enjoy seeing us laugh. Rita was usually reading or writing a letter to this year’s boyfriend. Later on, for our bedtime snack, we would pop corn or roast peanuts in a tin pan with a log handle and screen on top.

When it came time to cross the cold dog trot breeze way and jump into our assigned bed, we had a specific routine to achieve the most warmth. Wearing our long flannel pajamas and heavy wool socks, we would stand face to face with the fireplace, as close as we would dare stand. Then turning quickly, we would warm our backsides. One of us would then call out to the uncles: “Ready!”

One uncle would open the bedroom door and the other the door to the parlor. In single file line, oldest to youngest, we would run as fast as we could and jump under the turned down pile of quilts before the cold overwhelmed us. Poor little Kay would often find herself in between her two big sisters and would, before the night was over, become a feather mattress fried pie.

Mother would always bring a big box of homemade pies, cakes, cookies, and fruit when we came to Grandpa’s for Christmas. This box of goodies was our Christmas present to the uncles and Grandpa. They usually had a basket full of peppermint candy sticks on the egg table for us to share during our visit. But, really the best gift we gave each other was to be home for the holiday. Mother grew up on the Ritter Farm on Oak Grove Road. That old farmhouse was home to her and her children. We had some of our best childhood adventures with the uncles and Grandpa on that old farm.

To me, home has always been wherever my Mother resides. We both came home to the Ritter Farm in the late 1980s. Grandpa and Uncle Jack are now in the “sweet by and by”. Uncles George and Willard both live in local nursing homes. Mother and I are still kicking around the old home place.

I hope you will be home for the holidays, wherever that may be. “Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays.”

Merry Christmas from your Vision 2020 friends and neighbors!

P.S. Okay, the picture isn’t Christmas at Grandpa’s House but it is Grandpa, Uncles Jack and Willard and little Rita and Mike.

Thank you!

November 2019

In the last few weeks of his young life, my brother James taught me a most valuable James Lesterlesson that I will never forget. Due the ravages of cancer and its treatment, James was no longer able to breathe without the trachea tube in his throat or eat without the use of the feeding tube in his side. All five of us kids spent the last full week of his life together with James. Every few hours one of us would have to prepare his medication and nutrition to pour into the feeding tube.

After his death, as I reviewed that final few days of storytelling, laughter, tears and music, I realized something that James did every time one of us feed him or administered his medication. No matter who it was or what time of day (even the 2am visit), James would move his finger to cover that open tube in his throat to say: “thank you”.  He always said the same two words – “thank you”. He didn’t say: “thanks” or ”uh-hah” or nod his head. Every time he would say: “thank you”. It occurred to me that he was trying to make a personal, one-on-one connection with his assistant. Thank you to the one who was doing for him what he could no longer do for his self. “Thank YOU”.

It is so very important for us, citizens of the world, to be aware of others in our lives who assist us in any way on our life’s journey. To simply say two words: “thank you”. It is these two words spoken in sincere gratitude that connect us, that make us a community.

November is the month of Thanksgiving. Vision 2020 would certainly be remiss if we did not take the time to express our sincere gratitude to all those folks in our community and beyond who have supported us with the donation of time, money and/or goods in 2019.

Thank you to our team of volunteers who help produce community events: the Easter Egg Hunt, Folk Medicine Festival, Ice Cream Social, Cathie and Troy Johnson 5K Walk/Run, Red Pump Café and Night-time Christmas Parade.

Thank you to all our community partners: First Baptist Church, RBS church of Christ, Armour’s Hotel, Donoho Hotel, Macon Bank and Trust, Citizens Bank, the City of Red Boiling Springs, RBS Police, Fire and EMS teams.

Thank you to all the local businesses who donated money or goods to make our events happen.

Thank you to Vision 2020’s Volunteers of the Year 2019: Tammy and Randall Bray.

Thank you, Board of Officers of Vision 2020: Crystal Justice, Chair; Dennis Emery, Vice Chair; Karen Davis, Secretary, Laura Merlo, Treasurer and Sue Sullivan for your guidance. Thank you to assistant Treasurer George McCrary and Executive Director Rita Watson for keeping us in line.

Thank you to those who donated to our Ice Cream Social Auction and to those who came to purchase those donations.

Thank you to those who have donated through the Brick-by-Brick appeal, or the Windows to our Heritage appeal or through your purchases at smile.amazon.com. Your financial gifts are keeping the dream of restoring the old bank building alive.

Thank you to those artists and crafts persons who have placed their work in the Step Back in Time shop for sale. Thank you to those teachers who have shared their knowledge in one of the classes offered at the Step Back in Time shop.

Thank you to Cassetty and Crystal Cherry, Darlene LeCureux, Delanie Trent, Selma Davenport, Shirley Davenport, Rita Watson and Tobin Sellers for the mural that tells the story of Red Boiling Springs.

Ya’ll make us and our town look good!

We look forward to working with you in 2020.


Telling Our Story

October 2019

Each October, since 1973, in the little town of Jonesborough, TN thousands of people from all walks and seasons of life gather under tents to hear stories. Why do they come?

Storytelling is as vital to our lives as water and air. Sharing stories is not just for small children. Every individual and every community has stories to share. Share they must, for in the telling of the stories our past is preserved and our future is mapped.

The work being down to restore the old bank building in Red Boiling Springs is more than saving an old building from ruin. Notice the word restore. “Re” means to do again. Change the last letter in restore and you have “story”. The efforts being done to that old bank building are more than restoring a physical structure; it is also an effort to “re-story”. To tell the story of Red Boiling Springs over and over again. Storytelling is more than a regurgitation of facts, names and dates. Storytelling teaches us how to behave, how to forgive, how to trust, and how to love.

Why would folks come to little Jonesborough each year, sit under tents for three days in all kinds of weather from hot to freezing temperatures and rain or even snow falling? Why should we have a home in Red Boiling Springs where our town and family stories can live? Why should volunteers spend hours of time on restoring an old building to its once glory days? Because Red Boiling Springs has a story to tell again and again.

The booklet, Simple Pleasures by Jeanette Keith, tells the story of the hey-day of Red Boiling Springs during its renowned years as a resort town. Your purchase of that booklet is a contribution to the restoration fund for the old bank building. The annual Ice Cream Social and Auction is a fun event raising money to pay the costs of restoration. In November, in honor of our veterans and local marathoners Cathie and Troy Johnson, a 5K Walk/Run is held. Your participation is a donation to the necessary work being done on the building.

Thank you for helping Vision 2020 volunteers share the story of Red Boiling Springs.

“I think we need to put back in touch with our childhood . . . to be reminded of what’s important, like memories of people we loved, or things that happened to us that affected our lives, things we can laugh about and shed a few tears about . . . I think storytelling is a way of saying ‘I love you.’ I love you enough to tell you something that means a great deal to me.” – Kathryn Tucker Windham, Story teller


front cover


Alex Haley quote

September 2019

The primary purpose of restoring the old RBS Bank building on the corner by the flashing yellow light is to satisfy that “hunger to know our heritage.” From the Indians and frontiersmen who first walked along the Salt Lick Creek, to the folks who ran the hotels and other attractions during the 1920s and 1930s, to those who stayed and rebuilt after the devastating flood of 1969, all have built upon each other’s dreams and accomplishments to make Red Boiling Springs the charming village that it is today.

From Simple Pleasures by Dr. Jeanette Keith: “If Red Boiling Springs’ nostalgic contemporary clientele could have seen the town as it was during its heyday between the World Wars, they would have found that the twilight which is so hushed at Red Boiling Springs was not so then. The main road was crowded every summer evening with people promenading from six large hotels and nine boarding houses. Music spilled across the night air from the dance halls and from jukeboxes in restaurants and taverns. Cars from nearby towns were beginning to pull in, and the bootleggers were getting ready for business. The town’s lights would burn until well after midnight. Red Boiling Springs was a “boom town” with its prosperity built on recreation.

Vacationers had first been attracted to the resort at Red Boiling Springs by the numerous mineral water springs in the area. Although drinking mineral waters was thought to cure diseases, Red Boiling Springs in its heyday never had the atmosphere of a sanitarium. Going to Red Boiling Springs to drink the waters provided an excuse for a lively vacation.” (p. 5-6)

Some say the decline in the popularity of the “resort town” of Red Boiling Springs began during the war years of the early 1940s. Additionally, it was dealt a hard slap in the face with the June 1969 flood that destroyed homes and businesses never rebuilt. One of the saddest contributions to the decline of the town (beginning in the 1950s), is the departure of many of her children seeking their fame and fortune in the big city and other locations.

In the last several years the town has welcomed folks from around the country who are attracted to the “simple pleasures” of the quiet, rural atmosphere along the Salt Lick Creek. The town still offers much to the tourist/guest. Three of the historic hotels are still functioning as bed-and-breakfast inns and special event venues. There are gift shops featuring the work of local artists and craftspeople. Several events are scheduled each year: the Folk Medicine Festival, concerts, antique car shows and more.

Plans are to have a “soft opening” of the Red Boiling Springs Heritage Museum in June, 2020. You can help make certain that happens with a financial donation, or giving your time to help with some of the physical labor needed to complete the restoration work, or loaning some historical objects or documents from your family’s history in our little town. Contact Vision 2020’s Executive Director Rita Watson if you are willing and able to help.



August 2019

What is there to do in Red Boiling Springs? How many times have you been asked that question? What is so special about Red Boiling Springs? The shortest and best answer is the citizens. Warm, friendly, welcoming; all describe the folks that call Red Boiling Springs home. Let’s look at a few of them:

The RBS Volunteer Fire Department – Not only do they train and are willing to help in all kinds of emergency situations and fires, but each year they sponsor several community events. During the summer, the downtown area is filled with antique vehicles as part of the RBS Fire Department annual car show. Each Labor Day weekend, they host the community at the Duck Day Festival and that evening a beautiful fireworks display. They also support other events with traffic and parking concerns and just being there, in case they are needed.

Three Historic Hotels – Remaining from the hey-day of Red Boiling Springs are three historic hotels now operating as bed and breakfast hotels and more. The Armour’s Red Boiling Springs Hotel is host to several community meetings and events throughout the year. The Armour’s has the only historic mineral bathhouse still operating in Tennessee, coupled with the availability of Licensed Massage Therapists.

The Thomas House is home to dinner theatre shows six times or more a year. They also host ghost hunting weekends several times during the year. Which is only right, since the hotel is believed to be inhabited by the ghost of a former resident, 8-year-old Sarah and several others. The Cole family welcomes guests year-round.

The oldest of the hotels, the Donoho Hotel has experienced in the last few years some renovation and updating. Now a beautiful wedding venue, the hotel staff serves lunch two Sundays each month. The Donoho Entertainment Center at the back of the property, has hosted concerts and other community events from 50th Anniversary celebrations to auction benefits.

Somewhere to eat – Red Boiling Springs offers a variety of eateries. Big Ed’s BBQ offers pulled pork and all the fixin’s. For a different BBQ flavor, Lone Star BBQ opened it doors a year or so ago serving a taste of Texas beef brisket and other meats with a menu of side dishes. Bray’s Dinner Time family restaurant, open for breakfast and lunch, offers family-style, meat and three fare. Manantial Mexican Restaurant serves up south-of-the border, TexMex meals. Of course, all three hotels offer home-cooking served family-style to there guests and for special events.

Don’t forget the gift shops and antique stores The Thomas House is filled with antiques and other collectibles. Raggedy Fran’s offers handcrafts and collectibles. Jesse T’s is home to all sorts of memorabilia and collectible items. Grandpa’s House, located on the Ritter Farm, is a museum celebrating farm life and a gift shop featuring work by a variety of local artists and crafters.

Memories and More, in the Hillwood Shopping Center, is a bulging storehouse of  antiques; glassware, furniture, paintings and more. The RBS Florist is much more than flowers. Gifts of all kinds are available. The Step Back in Time Shop also offers work by local artists, crafters, storytellers and songwriters. Several classes for the community is also part of the Step Back monthly schedule. Sunshine Decor’s  RBS location offers home decor, clothing, furniture, etc. and custom t-shirts that many times features the local zip code.

Don’t stop now – Red Boiling Springs has been home for 63 years to the Annual Middle Tennessee Regional AACA Fall Meet. This event and the annual Folk Medicine Festival bring a couple thousand visitors to the small community. Then there are the Bio-dynamic Conferences and other events sponsored by The Barefoot Farmer.

I know a place where people can go to relax and escape the busyness and worry of their day-to-day commitments. I know a place where cell phones don’t have reliable service, which suits the guests just fine. I know a place where folks can walk on a track or through a quiet park. I know a place where sitting on a veranda with a book and cool drink is the most pleasant spot in the whole world. I know a place that matters.


#This place matters

*Thank you, Petula Clark, 1965

Home of the Brave

July 2019 

 “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

“Home” is one of those beautiful four-letter words. From the first settlers who arrived on the east coast to those who fought to separate themselves from the lands they left behind to form a “more perfect union” to those wanderers who kept moving across the unknown landscape, our country was built upon brave souls.

And home’s the most excellent place of all – Neil Diamond, Heartlight, 1982

After a hard day’s work, most of us return to our home for rest, peace and reassurance. We go on vacations to “get away” but we look forward to returning home when the get-a-way is done. Home is our anchor, our safe haven, and our foundation.

Red Boiling Springs is home to variety of folks. Those who roots go back three or four generations or more and have never left, call it home. Those whose roots are here, left for a time but have returned home. Those who heard of the “hominess” of the community and now call it home. Isn’t that the nature of home? Some never leave, some leave for a time and return, and others are welcomed to be a part of home.

“Home is where you hang your hat.”

“Home is where the heart is.”

Home is a refuge. Home is where you are reminded who you are and who you can become.

“There’s no place like home”

“Home is where our story begins”

Our story begins with those settlers and early families who came to this area and called it home. Vision 2020 wants to save those stories of struggle and triumph and home. Our story is worth saving and passing on to the next generations.

Whenever a member of Vision 2020 asks for a donation to the Ice Cream Social or the Cathie and Troy Johnson 5K Walk/Run to finance the restoration of the old bank building, we are not asking for just money. We are asking for your participation in saving our home. Brick and mortar restoration efforts require money for materials and expert labor.

The old bank building restoration project is more than restoring a historic building, more than preserving history, it is preserving home.

#home #redboilingsprings



June 2019

We have just experienced, in the last few weeks, opportunities to remember. With Memorial Day and the marking of the D-Day invasion, we honor the memories of the fallen brave with recollection of deeds that paid the price for the precious freedoms we enjoy in our nation.  From the heart of composer and D-Day veteran Jim Radford:

And those of you who were unborn, who’ve lived in liberty,
Remember those who made it so on the shores of Normandy.

One of the goals of Vision 2020 Inc is to preserve and share the history, the family stories and folklore of Red Boiling Springs, TN. Why? Because “this place matters”.  Why? Because the history and lives of the past are the foundation on which our present and future lives are built. #thisplacematters

Everyone has places that are important to them. Places they care about. Places that matter. Red Boiling Springs is a place many people call home. Whether they still reside within its borders or not. #thisplacematters

To that end, Vision 2020 Inc has been working the past 5 plus years to restore the old bank building in town to house historic memorabilia.  We are currently in phase 2 of this preservation project — restoring the old building to her glory days of the 1930s. We need volunteers to do physical labor under the supervision of those experienced with restoring historic properties.  The old bank building is listed on the National List of Historic Places. #thisplacematters

Because historic restoration is not free or cheap, we need financial support. Your donation does not need to be large. Whatever the amount, it will be put to use in the restoration efforts.  One way you can easily donate is through the Amazon Smile program.  If you shop on amazon.com anytime during the year, please choose to sign up for this fund-raiser — Amazon Smile


Choose Vision 2020 Inc as your preferred charity. Each time you shop, Amazon will make a donation to Vision 2020’s heritage museum fund based on the amount of your purchase.  It does not increase your purchase amount. Amazon is making the donation.

Send us stories why Red Boiling Springs matters to you — vision2020@nctc.com


V is for Volunteer

April is Volunteer Month. Volunteers are the key to any community’s success!  Volunteers want to make a difference. Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart (Elizabeth Andrew).  Vision 2020 is made up of folks with a heart for their community.

If you have been following Vision 2020 on Facebook, you have send the faces and heard the reasons why some of your neighbors volunteer. What began as a few business owners and concerned citizens visiting about how to attract more guests to our hometown grew into the establishment of a group of volunteers known as Vision 2020 Inc.

With the support of the city government and lots of volunteers, Vision 2020 Inc has brought back some favorite community activities from the past: the Community Easter Egg Hunt, Night-time Christmas Parade and Folk Medicine Festival.  One of the first major projects V2020 volunteers completed was the Walking Quilt.

Located throughout our city parks; the walking trail begins at the gazebo in front of the Donoho Hotel on the corner of East Main Street and Witcher Hollow Road. Under the direction of volunteer Carolyn Whitaker, the quilt trail has a three-fold purpose. First, it honors the heritage of the town by honoring one of the crafts prevalent in our history. Second, it provides a pleasant addition to the existing walking trail in our city parks. Lastly, the quilt trail encourages citizens and guests to walk the trail to add a few more steps to their lives.

Walking Quilt Trail opening day 9-4-10 004smallerEach shadow box display contains a 2×2 painted representation of a quilt block from a popular quilt design of the 1920’s to 1940s. The box also contains a plaque that tells about the design and why the sponsor chose it. Most of the quilt displays are in honor or in memory of someone. The names of the sponsor and the artist are also included on the plaque. The shadow box has a plexi-glass covering to help protect it from the elements.

You can be a part of any Vision 2020 Inc program or activity– all you have to do is volunteer! To learn how you can become a part of the Vision 2020 Volunteers — come to our monthly meetings on the 4th Tuesday of each month beginning at 7:00pm in the dining room of the Armour’s Hotel. Or, stop in the Step Back in Time Shop at 252 Main St., RBS and speak with a Vision 2020 Volunteer.  Visit our Facebook page or e-mail us at vision2020@nctc.com


Our Roots

February 2019

On a Saturday evening in the summertime, to drive over narrow, twisting roads to dine at the Donoho Hotel in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, is to experience a remnant of the nearly vanished past. The Donoho, built in 1916, is a living antique, functioning in much the same way as it did when Red Boiling Springs was a thriving resort community. In the late afternoon sun, tall white columns gleam through the trees surrounding the hotel, and the shade lies cool and deep on the lawn; on the long veranda people lounge in rocking chairs until the clanging of the dinner bell calls them to the dining hall. After supper, guests return to their chairs on the veranda. The stillness remains unbroken, except for the occasional car on the highway which passes through the small Macon County community. Guests are prone to think nostalgically about the “good old days” when people enjoyed restful vacations lolling on the veranda at Red Boiling Springs.  (introduction to Simple Pleasures by Dr. Jeanette Keith)

February 2019 – This month we launch a new feature of our vision2020inc.com website – Our Roots.  This blog site is planned to be updated each month with reminiscences of growing up in our charming hometown of Red Boiling Springs, TN as well as stories of days long past from the history of this once thriving resort community.

The Donoho Hotel Nestled in the rolling hills of middle Tennessee, The Donoho hotel is an oasis for a weary traveler for both the body and the soul. With a warm southern breeze and a cold glass of ice tea in your hand you are home! Established in 1914, the Donoho Hotel is steeped in tradition. As you drive over Salt Lick Creek onto the grounds you see more than 100 years of rich history. It is the last of the great white frame hotels with full-length two-story verandas. After the first Donoho Hotel burned, the current structure opened in 1914. What brought tourists to this rural Tennessee town were the potential curative powers of the mineral waters found in the area. This began in the 1860s after the Civil War ended and mountain spring resorts became the vacation destination for people all across the United States.  http://www.thedonoho.com/phone/about.html


Left: Mary Hudson and her sister, Peggy in front of the Donoho in by-gone days.

Visit us soon in Red Boiling Springs and enjoy the hospitality of the entire community.

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