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In the late 19th century, British social reformer embarked on a bold social experiment in the rugged terrain of eastern Tennessee. He created a utopian society and called it Rugby.

6 Facts About Rugby, Tennessee

  • Rugby’s founder, English author Thomas Hughes, envisioned a society that rejected late Victorian materialism in favor of Christian socialist ideals of equality and cooperation.
  • While Hughes thought he had found the perfect location for his utopian society, the rugged terrain of the Cumberland Plateau proved to be just the opposite. Poor soil conditions made it almost impossible to grow successful crops.
  • The Christ Church was established in 1880 and features one of the oldest reed organs known to exist in the United States. A congregation continues to have services in the building.
  • The Thomas Hughes Library was built in 1882 and remains largely unchanged. It’s oldest volume dates to 1687.
  • Efforts to preserve Rugby’s historic significance was started by a group of residents and descendants of the original colonists in the 1960s. They restored the original design and layout of the community and started welcoming tourists.
  • Today, approximately 85 residents live full or part-time in Rugby including owners of some of the historic homes as well as modern-day colonists who have built architecturally compatible new homes.