#thisplacematters, Historic Hotels, History, Stories, Volunteerism

Preserving Our Heritage

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.



#thisplacematters, Historic Hotels

I Know a Place*

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


#thisplacematters, History

This Place Matters

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 — https://smile.amazon.com


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