The Eureka Inn is rich with over 200 years of history.
Here’s our story (so far)...
1797 In the spring of 1797 Robert Mitchell and his wife Harriett purchased from the town of Jonesborough lot #19 located at the corner of Main Street and First Avenue. The property was sold to him under the stipulation that a dwelling be constructed to meet the standards required for a property located on Main Street. This two story dwelling was built on a stone foundation. Logs were used for floor joist. The dwelling was of mortise and tenon frame. The interior surfaces were wide plank walls, floors, and ceilings. Four fireplaces provided heat. The exterior was covered with clapboard and the roof was shake shingles.
1851 William Henry Maxwell purchased the property. He then added a two-story addition, consisting of one large room on each level. The room on the first level was built as an elegant parlor with an arched entrance on one end and a fireplace on the other. The room on the second floor, a very large bedroom, would later become famous in Jonesborough as the “Jury Room.” The courthouse located at the other end of the block would use this room to sequester a jury of twelve men and a guard. This practice went on for a period of about fifty years. During this period of history, only men could serve on a jury.
1869 Laura Gosnell purchased the property from Mr. Maxwell. For the remainder of the 19th century the property would operate as a private residence and boarding house.
1900 Peter Miller and his wife Harriett purchased the property. Mr. Miller was a man of vision. He appreciated the Greek Revival style of the building and knew that it was the perfect location for a hotel, being in the center of everything. The Millers obviously put a great deal of thought into their plan for this hotel. They added two-story additions to the east and south ends of the inn. They also added three beautiful porches one of which spans the entire length of the second story front of the inn. A standing seam metal roof was was also installed, replacing the wooden shingles on the old section and covering the new additions. The blending of the additions were so perfect that to the untrained eye the hotel appeared to have been built all at the same time. When all the decorating was completed, the Millers opened for business as the Eureka Hotel, offering hospitality to travelers and business people.
1910 J.R. Russell purchased the beautiful Eureka Hotel from the Millers. He intended to make it an even finer hotel. He added three more rooms and the first bathtub with hot and cold running water. All the guests in the hotel had access to this bathtub. It was a claw-foot tub located behind a three-quarter wall. It wasn’t hard to tell when someone else was using the tub witht he sound of splashing water and occasional singing. Mr. Russell also added three dormer windows to the roof, which serve as skylights in two of the larger bedrooms on the second floor. After his improvements were completed he reopened for business as the Hotel Russell.
1922 A local justice of the peace, H.M. Gresham, Sr., known as Squire Gresham, bought the hotel from J.R. Russell. He reopened the establishment the Gresham Hotel. It would continue to operate under this name for the next forty years. During this time period the hotel gradually evolved into other types of businesses. In the 1950’s, a restaurant, grocery store and a taxi cab business had taken over the ground floor.
1960s through 1990s The hotel gradually fell into a great state of disrepair, and there was a real danger that this piece of history might be lost.
1997 In the spring of 1997 the hotel was purchased by a small group of folks in Jonesborough. These investors wanted to see this beautiful old hotel restored back to its days of glory. A great deal of time and expense went into the planning process. The challenge was to preserve the charm of the hotel while blending in the amenities expected by the discerning traveler. Three years and almost three million dollars later, the Eureka reopened under the original name, offering the best of the past and the present. All guestrooms are decorated with a combination of period antiques and elegant reproductions.
The fully restored Eureka Inn is now a stop on the Tennessee Heritage Trail and has been featured on PBS's Tennessee Crossroads and in Southern Living magazine.