published Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Rhea courthouse plaza work begins

By Kimberly McMillian


DAYTON, Tenn. -- Workers from J.P. Morgan Concrete and Construction are pouring concrete for the new plaza in front of the Rhea County Courthouse, site of the Scopes Trial.

The plaza will provide more gathering space for pedestrians and have "detailed pavement treatments, monumental steps and new signage ... announcing the courthouse and museum" with a recap of the courthouse's history, according to a graphic of the design.

MainStreet Dayton's economic restructuring goal has been to emphasize a "clean, safe, and vibrant" downtown area around the courthouse, said Ron Harris, treasurer of the organization and overseer of the economic restructuring project.

The Dayton organization was the only member of Tennessee's MainStreet program to receive the Courthouse Revitalization Grant, which will provide up to $1 million over an eight-year period for renovations in downtown Dayton.

  • photo
    Photo by Kimberly McMillian Work on plaza around the Rhea County Courthouse.

MainStreet Executive Director Anna Tromanhouser said the city received the grant because the courthouse is a "historical landmark."

The 1925 Scopes Trial drew national attention when biology teacher John T. Scopes was tried for teaching evolution in violation of Tennessee law. Debate over the origin and development of mankind continues to this day.

In another piece of the downtown redevelopment plan, workers closed downtown streets last weekend to update the crosswalks at Main Street and Second and Third avenues at Market Street. The same brick paver theme was used several years ago at Market Street and First Avenue.

Downtown business owners also are talking about facade guidelines for the exteriors of their buildings.

Angie Kerr, owner of The Gathering Place and a MainStreet board member, has developed a tentative property owner's survey that asks for length of residency, likes and dislikes about the area, future ideas for downtown and plans for renovations or sale of properties.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Dayton. E-mail her at

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Article: Rhea County teams rally for Relay fundraiser in August

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