The restored Romanesque Revival-Italian villa-style courthouse was built in 1891 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. The Scopes Trial courtroom is on the second floor and contains the original judge's bench, four tables, railing, jury chairs and spectator seats.
In the spring of 1925, John Thomas Scopes, 24, was a science teacher at Rhea County High School in Dayton. Among the discussions in the wake of the Tennessee evolution law were those which took place in Dayton at Robinson's Drugstore on Market Street, a favorite gathering place for local citizens. A small group headed by Earle Robinson, "The Hustling Druggist," and George Rappleyea, superintendent of Dayton Coal & Iron Company, "conspired" with young Scopes to violate the Tennessee statute to provide a court testcase. The original context for the plan appears to have been that of a publicity stunt. The interest and resulting worldwide publicity which quickly developed surprised even the event's planners. The original drugstore table at which the decision was made on May 15, 1925, to make a testcase is still on view today in the Scopes Museum in the basement of Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton.
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