About Us

The Scopes Trial play Destiny in Dayton and the Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation grew out of a desire to tell, in a dramatic fashion, the true story of the Scopes Trial.


In 1988, Frank Chapin, an independent writer and producer came to Dayton with the idea of producing the play Inherit the Wind in the courtroom. He was encouraged to meet with Dr. Richard Cornelius, a professor at Bryan College who was a student of William Jennings Bryan and the Trial, and Dr. Cornelius suggested something different: Write a historically accurate play.

Mr. Chapin took the challenge and wrote Destiny in Dayton, which was produced the first time that July. For 20 years, Bryan College produced the Scopes Trial Play and Festival, before handing the project to the Dayton Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce passed the Festival to MainStreet Dayton, and in 2016, the Rhea Heritage Preservation Foundation was chartered as an independent non-profit organization to “celebrate the history, heritage and culture of Rhea County through diverse programs, exhibits, and preservation of resources.”


The original objective was to continue presenting fact-based dramatizations of the Scopes Trial transcript, but over the years the mission has expanded to include a summer music festival (Nokian Tyres Summer Nights, each Friday in June), educational programs (How It Started,
an hour-long play about the Trial, with a lecture and discussion for students and teachers), and dramatizations at Halloween and Christmas of classic radio programs including Time Machine and
It’s a Wonderful Life.

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