Rhea County Courthouse

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Rhea County Courthouse
Rhea county courthouse usda.jpg
The Rhea County Courthouse bell tower.
Rhea County Courthouse is located in Tennessee
Rhea County Courthouse
Location 1475 Market Street
Dayton, Tennessee
Coordinates 35°29′41.74″N 85°00′45.63″W / 35.4949278°N 85.0126750°W / 35.4949278; -85.0126750Coordinates: 35°29′41.74″N 85°00′45.63″W / 35.4949278°N 85.0126750°W / 35.4949278; -85.0126750
Area 3.7 acres (1.5 ha)
Built 1891[citation needed]; 1925[1]
Architect W. Chamberlin
Dowling & Taylor
Architectural style Italian villa
Governing body Local (County of Rhea)
NRHP Reference # 72001251
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 7, 1972[1]
Designated NHL December 8, 1976[2]

The Rhea County Courthouse, located in Dayton, Tennessee was the scene of the Scopes Trial of July 1925, in which teacher John T. Scopes faced charges for including Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in his public school lesson. The trial became a clash of titans between the lawyers William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense, and epitomizes the tension between fundamentalism and modernism in a wide range of aspects of American society.

Rhea County Museum[edit]

A $1-million project which restored the second-floor courtroom to the way it looked during the Scopes trial was completed in 1979. The Rhea County Museum, also called the Scopes Trial Museum, is located in its basement and contains such memorabilia as the microphone used to broadcast the trial, trial records, photographs, and an audiovisual history of the trial. Every July local people re-enact key moments of the trial in the courtroom.[3] In front of the courthouse stands a commemorative plaque erected by the Tennessee Historical Commission:

2B 23

Here, from July 10 to 21, 1925 John
Thomas Scopes, a County High School
teacher, was tried for teaching that
a man descended from a lower order
of animals in violation of a lately
passed state law. William Jennings
Bryan assisted the prosecution;
Clarence Darrow, Arthur Garfield
Hays, and Dudley Field Malone the
defense. Scopes was convicted.

The Rhea County Courthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1976.[4] It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ "Rhea County Courthouse". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  3. ^ Scopes Trial Museum - Tennessee History for Kids
  4. ^ National Park Service (April 2007). "National Historic Landmarks Survey: List of National Historic Landmarks by State".
  5. ^ National Park Service. National Register Information System http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/research/index.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-15.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Rhea County Courthouse" (pdf). National Park Service. 1972.  and Accompanying photos, exterior and interior PDF (32 KB)

External links[edit]