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R is for Ryman Auditorium

April 21, 2014

R

 

The A to Z Challenge continues and today the letter is R.

A vacation in Nashville should always include a visit to the Ryman Auditorium, a 2,362-seat live performance venue. It is best known as the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, but it has a famous history before that. It first opened in 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. It was built by Thomas Ryman, a riverboat captain and Nashville businessman who owned several saloons. Ryman conceived of the auditorium as a tabernacle when he received salvation under the influence of revivalist Samuel Porter Jones. After Ryman’s death, the Tabernacle was renamed Ryman Auditorium in his honor.

It was used for Grand Ole Opry broadcasts from 1943 until 1974, when the Opry built a larger venue just outside Nashville. It is said that in an effort to maintain continuity with the Opry’s storied past, a large circle was cut from the floor of the Ryman stage and inlaid into the center of the new Opry stage. I’d like to see what they did with the hole in the Ryman stage.

The Ryman then sat mostly vacant and fell into disrepair until 1992 when Emmylou Harris and her band, the Nash Ramblers, performed a series of concerts there. The concerts renewed interest in restoring the Ryman, and after an $8.5 million renovation, it was reopened as an intimate performance venue and museum in 1994. Audiences at the Ryman find themselves sitting in the refinished original pews, reminders of the auditorium’s origins as a house of worship, hence giving it the nickname “The Mother Church of Country Music.”  The State of Tennessee has also officially recognized the Ryman Auditorium as the birthplace of bluegrass music.

The Ryman is still used as an entertainment venue and has appeared in various television shows and movies.

 

The Ryman Auditorium will be one of the top priorities for our anniversary trip this summer.

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2 Comments
  1. Kensi Kempf permalink

    That would be cool to see what they did with the stage.

    • Actually, after I posted that I read something about the entire stage being redone, so it might not show where the center was taken out. But we can still see the part that was taken out at the Grand Ole Opry.

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