In 1889 the Rhea County Court moved the county seat to Dayton (previously Smith’s Crossroads) from Washington, and appropriated $35,000 for the building of a courthouse. The courthouse in Washington was torn down and bricks from that building were used in the construction of the new courthouse, thus building a relationship between this new courthouse and the former one in Washington. Built in 1890-91, the Rhea County Courthouse is a combination of Romanesque Revival and Italian Villa-style architecture. The Knoxville architectural firm of Wm. Chamberlin and Company designed the building and Wm. Dowling and J.R. Taylor, Chattanooga contractors built it. Our courthouse was used as a model for other buildings, and is significant in that it is the first county courthouse designed by a firm that would design courthouses in at least four southern states and Missouri. The main staircase links the floors of the courthouse together; the doors and their frames show the bulls-eye blocks, which represent the beautiful wood craftsmanship of the time which the courthouse represents. (The courthouse was opened for business in 1892.)This building is one hundred and thirty years old this year and has been in constant use as a courthouse since it was built, except for being closed at the present time due to its offices and courts being moved to the new Rhea County Justice Center.