Utopian Oasis in Tennessee is for anyone interested in an in-depth
look at the curious utopian community, Rugby, founded by British
social reformer Thomas Hughes in 1880. The community lasted less
than 10 years, but like other utopian experiments in the United
States, it is worthy of study. This site tries to answer some of
the following questions:
The site may be used as a companion for those traveling to Historic
Rugby in Rugby, Tennessee, or merely for those visiting via the
- What social problem was Hughes trying to solve when he founded
- Why did he come to Tennessee?
- Even though the community was short-lived, why did it leave
an architectural legacy in the Cumberland Plateau unlike anything
in the area?
- What factors led to Rugby's failure?
- Where can I find more information about Rugby?
The site is broken into 4 major content themes
and a resource page. Each themed section contains an historical
narrative hyperlinked to images and transcribed documents relating
to Rugby, such as portions from the Rugby Handbook printed in 1884
and letters Thomas Hughes wrote to the British newspaper The
Spectator. All of those links are combined in the Rugby
Resources section, along with bibliographies and links to other
web resources on the subject.
interest in the Rugby community dates back to 1995 when I moved
to Nashville, Tennessee to work for the summer. At the time, I was
an American Studies graduate student at the
University of Notre Dame and was concerned with experiencing
different cultural regions to expand my understanding of American
life; this brought me to Music City. Though working during the week,
I hopped in my Mercury Topaz on weekends to explore other parts
of Tennessee and southern Kentucky. One such journey brought me
to the Historic Rugby
settlement in the Cumberland plateau.
Earlier that year, I researched Thomas Hughes’s
Rugby for a paper and wanted to visit this strange, failed utopian
settlement of British aristocracy in America. This web site grew
out of my Rugby research and into a project for a graduate history
class at George Mason University.
Feel free to email me with any questions or concerns regarding the