The Rhea County Courthouse was the site of a landmark legal case involving teaching the theory of evolution in public schools.
On May 5, 1925, John Thomas Scopes, a high school science teacher, was charged with violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of man's origin and teaching the theory of evolution.
The trial began on July 10, 1925 and concluded on July 21. The jury deliberated for only nine minutes to find Scopes guilty. The verdict was eventually overturned by an appeal to the Supreme Court of Tennessee in 1927. The Butler Act was repealed in 1967.