Historic Rugby, Tennessee (population 85) is a restored Victorian village in Morgan County founded in 1880 by British author and social reformer Thomas Hughes. His vision was a cooperative, class-free, agricultural community for younger sons of English gentry and others wishing to start life anew in America. At its peak, about 350 people lived in the colony.
Today, more than 20 of the original 60 Victorian buildings remain at the southern edge of the Big South Fork National Park, surrounded by rugged river gorges. Visitors are welcome to attend Sunday services at the 1887 Christ Church Episcopal church and stay in historic lodgings. The founder’s Gothic revival cottage is filled with furnishings made by early colonists or brought from England and Cincinnati on the railroad. The Schoolhouse contains exhibits that detail the 125-year history of Rugby, and the Thomas Hughes Library, with a 7,000-volume collection and original furnishings, is unchanged since it opened in 1882.
The town recently completed a new visitor center and theater to welcome the more than 60,000 visitors who come to Rugby each year. Every year in May the town hosts the Historic Rugby Festival of British and Appalachian Culture. Events include music, dancing, storytelling, crafts demonstrations and sales, with more than 100 performers and artisans taking part. A bi-annual Pilgrimage of Rugby Homes has been held for more than 40 years, and Christmas at Historic Rugby is in its 20th year.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2006.