Friday, April 4, 2014

Touring the Ryman Auditorium

The history of the Ryman dates back to the 1800's when Thomas G Ryman, a riverboat captain and Nashville businessman, attended a revival by famed traveling evangelist Sam Jones.

Legend has it Captain Ryman planned to heckle the preacher but instead was converted on the spot and decided to raise money for a permanent place for Jones to preach.

Seven years and $100,000 later, in 1892, the Union Gospel Tabernacle was completed.  It would be renamed Ryman Auditorium upon Captain Ryman's death in 1904.

From 1904 until the Grand Ole Opry came in 1943, the Ryman served as the venue for a wide variety of events: religious revivals, jazz recitals, operas, ballets, political debates and even boxing matches.

Under the management of Lula C. Naff, one of the few businesswomen of her era, the Ryman became known as the Carnegie Hall of the South.  In 1943, Mrs Naff signed a contract to rent the Ryman out on Saturday nights for a popular live radio show, and changed the course of history for the Ryman and for country music.

Minnie Pearl and her famous hat with the $1.98 price tag.
 The tag was left on as a mistake, but was so popular she kept it as part of her act.
There were rarely any empty seats for the Saturday night Opry, with admission lines frequently extending around the block.

This is the pantsuit worn by Patsy Cline that caused a ruckus as the Opry management preferred that female cast members present themselves as demure and ladylike, preferably in full, square dance style dresses.  She was asked not to wear the outfit on the show again.  

After the Grand Ole Opry House was built the Ryman sat empty for years until it was renovated and reopened in 1994.  In 2001 it was named a National Historic Landmark.

It is now open for tours and has re-established its place as a premier concert venue, attracting world-class artists from all genres of music.

Long Live the Queen of the Ryman


  1. what a neat auditorium! i did love minnie pearl. :) raised with hee haw on every saturday night.

  2. I agree, it is quite a fascinating place. Did you have a chance to go through the park too? I visited there some years ago when a friend and I attended a week long Fan Fair. It was simply divine. Today started out nice but changed to wind and rain. It figures! I was at a baseball game. SIL Eddie let me use one of his shirts to keep my camera dry. It could have been worse though, it could have been snow. Ugh! You have a fun day, hugs, Edna B.