The Courthouse at the Center of the Scopes Monkey Trial May Soon Get a Statue of Lawyer Clarence Darrow

The Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee is famous for hosting the legendary Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925. (Quick summary: Substitute teacher John Scopes was charged with teaching evolution, which was illegal in that state at the time. He was found guilty and fined $100.)

The two prominent lawyers in the trial were William Jennings Bryan, arguing for the state, and Clarence Darrow representing Scopes. (If you haven’t seen Inherit the Wind yet, stop reading this post and go do that.)

Anyway, outside the courthouse today stands this statue of Bryan, which went up in 2005:


As you might imagine, they still love Bryan in that area. It’s one of those places where acceptance of evolution is still seen as heretical in many circles.

But now there’s a push for the courthouse to include a similar statue of Clarence Darrow:

“Back in 2005, we knew that if the topic ever arose, we’d have to consider adding a Darrow monument as well or else risk be shown in a negative or biased light,” Rhea County Historical Society President Tom Davis said. “We don’t want to stir up controversy or continue the battle from the 1920’s, but rather just recognize it as a major part of our history. I think it will be a unique feature for Dayton and a good idea to have both Jennings and Bryan represented.”

“I would really like to create a sculpture of Clarence Darrow for Dayton’s courthouse,” [sculptor Zenos] Frudakis said. “It would be fun and his sculptural presence would bring a nice balance to the Dayton, Tenn., experience for visitors wanting to know more about the famous Scopes Trial.”

It would be a privately-funded statue, with the American Humanist Association managing all the money involved.

I spoke with Rosalie Frudakis, the President of Frudakis Studio, Inc., to learn more about their intentions and vision — you can see mockups of the statue here — and she told me it might take up to a year for the statue to go up, but there shouldn’t be any legal hurdles.

A model of what the final Clarence Darrow statue would look like (via Zenos Frudakis)
A model of what the final Clarence Darrow statue would look like (via Zenos Frudakis)

The cost of the statue could be upwards of $200,000 (which would be entirely crowd-funded) and that includes: research, creation of a model statue, materials, the base, shipping, installation, and much more. The cost is typical of a statue of this size, she added.

Even if you think that’s a lot for a statue, though, it would certainly be a welcome addition to a courthouse that represented Creationism’s high point. I’ll let you know when the fundraising begins.

(Top image via brent_nashville on Flickr)

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