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Sampler: The Ryman Auditorium


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Ryman Auditorium - Nashville
Ryman Auditorium

Nashville has been linked with country music for several decades. Today, it is the center of a huge recording business and the site of many nightclubs that cater to country music fans. The city and the music came to be identified with each other largely because of the popularity of the Grand Ole Opry, the radio program that began in 1925 on station WSM. As the show became more popular, it was shifted from one location to another to accommodate the live audience. In 1943, it finally moved to the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, where it stayed until 1974.

Although many people associate the Ryman Auditorium primarily with country music, it was in fact a multi-purpose facility that was completed in 1892 as a tabernacle for a popular minister of the time. Because of the cost of the building, however, Tom Ryman, the man who funded its construction, also allowed it to be used for conferences. Needing additional income, he soon promoted it as a site for music performances and theater. It became an important cultural center that saw performances by world-renowned artists in many musical and theatrical styles.

The Sanborn Map Company's 1914 fire insurance plan of Nashville depicts the Ryman some twenty years after its construction. The balcony shown was not part of the original plan, but was added to make the building more attractive to renters. The seating capacity is given as five to six thousand, which is an overstatement by about fifteen to twenty-five hundred. The sheet is interesting not only for its portrayal of the Ryman but for what it shows of downtown Nashville. Immediately adjacent to the Ryman Auditorium was a synagogue and another large tabernacle. Slightly further away was a college and a summer theater, then unused. In the neighboring blocks there was a heavy concentration of printing and publishing firms.

Graphic detail of Ryman Auditorium
Graphic detail of Ryman Auditorium

Gary L. Fitzpatrick


Baltimore and Ohio Railroad| Bethlehem Steel| Chicago Union Stockyards| Cripple Creek| John Deere| Ebbets Field| Ford Motor Company| Ryman Auditorium | Tuskegee Institute| Waikiki


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  August 9, 2010
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