Posts Tagged 'Union Gospel Tabernacle'

Field Trip Friday: Ryman Auditorium, Nashville

Continuing on our coverage of Hae-In’s recent Southern roadtrip, this week’s field trip takes us to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The Ryman first opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. Built by Thomas Ryman, a riverboat captain and Nashville businessman who owned several saloons, the auditorium was originally built for the celebrated revivalist Samuel Porter Jones. The Tabernacle was designed by Mark Ludwig and later renamed the Ryman Auditorium after Ryman died in 1904.

The Ryman exterior

By the turn of the century, the Ryman had become one of the South’s major performance venues and developed a tradition of showcasing a wide variety of genres and entertainers. Everyone, from stars such as Charlie Chaplin to composers such as Edward Strauss and Sergei Rachmaninov, performed there.

Hae-In, at the newer entrance

From 1943 until 1974, the Ryman was used for Grand Ole Opry broadcasts. It was around this time that the building became known nationwide as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” featuring influential performers such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline.

After 1974, a larger venue for the Grand Ole Opry was built just outside Nashville, in addition to the Opryland USA theme park. The original building was left mostly vacant and fell into disrepair.

The Ryman Stage

In 1992, singer and songwriter Emmylou Harris and her band, the Nash Ramblers, performed a series of concerts there. These concerts helped renew interest in restoring the Ryman, and it was renovated and reopened as a performance venue and museum in 1994. The pews were also fully restored, serving as a reminder of the Ryman’s origins as a church. And the acoustics are reputed to be second in quality in the US only to Salt Lake City’s Mormon Tabernacle.

Hatch Show Print Gallery

While many might assume the Ryman solely features country and bluegrass musicians, the performance hall has stayed true to its traditions and continues to feature an eclectic concert schedule. Some notable, sold-out performances in recent years include R.E.M., Merle Haggard, Ryan Adams, the Pixies, Erykah Badu, and Keith Urban. The Ryman also features musical theatre.

Historic landmark signage

The site was first included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was further designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2001.

Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, right by the Nashville Arena, the Ryman is open daily for self guided and guided tours from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day).