To borrow shamelessly (but with attribution) from Wikipedia: "The Ryman Auditorium is a 2,362-seat live performance venue best-known as the one-time home of the Grand Ole Opry.
"The auditorium first opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. It was built by Thomas Ryman (1843–1904), a riverboat captain and Nashville businessman who owned several saloons. Ryman conceived of the auditorium as a tabernacle for the influential revivalist Sam 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 at the Opryland USA theme park. 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 results of which appeared on her album "At the Ryman"). The Harris concerts renewed interest in restoring the Ryman, and it was reopened as an intimate performance venue and museum in 1994. Audiences at the Ryman find themselves sitting in pews, the 1994 renovation notwithstanding. The seating is a reminder of the auditorium's origins as a house of worship, hence giving it the nickname "The Mother Church of Country Music".
In 2001, the Ryman Auditorium was designated a National Historic Landmark and included in the National Register of Historic Places."
There are fascinating tours, and a gift shop featuring everything you might possibly want having to do with the Opry and the various stars who have performed at the Ryman over the years.
Built in 1892 by Capt. Thomas Ryman as an evangelical Tabernacle for the citizens of Nashville, the Ryman Auditorium gained its place in the Hall of Fame when it was recognized in 1943 as the home of the Grand Ole Opry - showcase of country music USA! However, fame can be fleeting, and in 1974 the Opry was moved to its new and larger home at Opryland, out of town next to the airport. For twenty years, until 1994, the Ryman sat vacant until it was refurbished and restored to its present glory. Today, it is a prime entertainment venue for visiting performers of all types - next up was Steve Winwood!
The Ryman Auditorium. Mental images of country music stars singing onstage invade our thoughts when someone speaks of The Ryman or "The Mother Church". Well, that is until you've been there. The Ryman is first and foremost a church. You can feel it as soon as you walk past the concession stand and into the original & beautifully restored Ryman.
Completed in 1892 by riverboat Captain Thomas G. Ryman as a gift to southern evangelist Samuel Porter Jones, The Ryman has been host to greats such as Booker T. Washington, President Teddy Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, and of course... Elvis Presley. In addition to being a large tourist attraction, The Ryman is now a small concert venue with acoustics second only to the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Ryman was NOT affected by the May 2010 flooding. Go, see, enjoy.
The Ryman is located in Downtown Nashville and was the orginal home of the Grand Ole Opry. It is known among die hard country music fans as the "Mother Church" and I suppose that's an accurate description. Old country greats like Patsy Cline, the Carters, and Johnny Cash all played here, to name just a few. (See I know something about county music!). Today shows and sometimes films are still held here and visitors to Nashville can stop in and take a tour if they like. I had the fortune to be able to get in as part of the events for the conference I was attending and hear a few songs (which I'm sorry to say I don't remember). It's a nice, old building though, and if you like country music it's an important stop to make!
First of all to make sure to see what there discounts are. They give triple AAA, but the lady that was at the window didn't tell us after we made the purchase and she wouldn't credit us the difference. Said she couldn't, although the gal next to her seemed shocked by her expression, but choose not to say anything either. YOU are the guest and YOU keep them in business, so challenge it. I felt what they did was unethical!
They have two tours: Self Tour where you are able to walk among the famous pews and see all the wonderful displays of country legends. The Backstage Tour is really worth it because you get to see the dressing rooms and the actual backstage.
"On May 10, at age 44, Ryman and some friends went to one of Rev. Jones’ famous tent revivals to raise a ruckus. But something in Jones’ sermon spoke to Ryman and he was so deeply affected that his life was changed forever. He pledged to construct a building large enough to hold all who wanted to hear Sam Jones and others preach. He wanted to ensure the citizens of Nashville would never have to attend a revival under a tent again.
The Union Gospel Tabernacle took seven years and approximately $100,000 to complete. On June 1, 1892 Rev. Jones preached in the newly completed building he inspired.
It was at Ryman's funeral on Christmas Day 1904 that Rev. Jones proposed to 5000 mourners that the building be renamed the Ryman Auditorium in his honor.
When the Bureau moved to Nashville in 1904, Mrs. Naff took charge of booking speaking engagements, concerts and other attractions into the Ryman Auditorium.
The Bureau was dissolved in 1914, which afforded Mrs. Naff the opportunity to begin working directly with the Ryman. First, she leased the building as an independent agent and then, in 1920, the board of directors hired her directly to manage the auditorium. Mrs. Naff remained in the position until she retired in 1955. At that time, she was named Manager Emeritus and replaced by her assistant, Mr. Harry Draper.
Mrs. Naff's (LC) new her business and had booking savvy brought respect and prestige to both the Ryman Auditorium and the city of Nashville. Under Mrs. Naff's guidance, the Ryman regularly hosted legendary entertainers of stage and screen ranging from Katharine Hepburn to Harry Houdini and from Bob Hope to the Ziegfeld Follies. She also opened the doors for boxing matches, livestock auctions and political debates. Tough, determined, shrewd, and capable, by booking the best events available, she kept the building thriving for more than fifty years.
The Opry moved to a downtown location in July 1939, the 2,200 seat War Memorial. Because the auditorium’s seating capacity was a third less than the Dixie Tabernacle, the show started charging admission – 25 cents. On June 5, 1943 the Opry moved to its most famous former home, the Ryman Auditorium where it stayed for the next 31 years.
On March 15, 1974, the Opry made its last broadcast from Ryman before moving to its new custom built home, The Grand Ole Opry House at Opryland. In 2004, the Opry House surpassed the Ryman as the Opry’s most enduring home."http://www.ryman.com/history/opry.html
Ryman Auditoreum is the heart and soul of country music. Originally built as a church it housed The Grand Ole Opry fromn 1943 until 1974. The Ryman is a National Historic Landmark with roots in country music where one can see all types of musical performances as well as daily self-guided tours.
On the self tour, you get to see the real stage and explore all the historic pews. Along the back wall is loads of wonderful displays of country music legends. Make sure to explore and enjoy the time inside this wonderful building.
the ryman auditorium was built by captain thomas ryman in 1892. this beautiful neo gothic building was designed by architect hugh thompson. the original name of the building was the union gospel tabernacle. from 1892 to 1943 the tabernacle hosted stage plays, classical concerts and lectures. thomas ryman died in 1904 and the tabernacle was renamed ryman auditorium after it's benefactor. in 1943 the ryman auditorium became home to nashville's grand ole opry. from 1943 until 1974 the ryman auditorium hosted country and western music shows featuring the best country and western stars of the time. in 1974 the grand ole opry moved to opryland just east of downtown. today the ryman continues to host concerts and stage plays. the ryman auditorium is listed on the national register of historic places. for admission and times see the attached web site.
The Ryman is best known as the former home of the Grand Ole Opry radio program, which began broadcasting in 1925, moved to the Ryman in 1943, and still continues today from another location. This structure was built in 1892 as a religious revival tabernacle, but the owners found after a few years that music and vaudeville shows worked better to pay the mortgage! The Grand Ole Opry became more or less synonymous with the Ryman Auditorium, but now that the program has moved, the Ryman stage is still used for other concerts and programs. You can see a show there, or take a tour of the building. In the main auditorium are interesting exhibits covering the Ryman's contributions to country music through the 20th century.
One of the many ironies of Southern culture is the uneasy mixture of music, dance, and religion. The Ryman was originally built in 1892 as a revivalist style church tabernacle, complete with a stage from where the evangelist minister would preach fire and brimstone about the evils of alcohol, dance, and country music. Gospel music choirs were favored over folk music, but cost of maintenance required that the locally owned and operated Baptist facility be rented for other purposes, most notably for secular music performances, which could easily fill every church pew with enthusiastic listeners. In 1893, the New York Symphony Orchestra performed here, and in 1908, John Phillips Sousa and his band played. During the 1920's and 30's, Isadora Duncan's Modern Dance Group performed several times, and even African-American Operatic legend Marion Anderson performed here as early as 1941. And, lectures by scientists and explorers, as well as thesbian performances of works by Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams were also scheduled in around Sunday church services. A memorial plate outside the Ryman claims that bluegrass began with a performance there in 1945, although this genre seems to have slightly earlier roots within the region of Kentucky. The Grand Ole Opry country music dates to a radio studio performance in 1925, and thereafter was for awhile performed in various studios and auditoriums around Nashville before becoming a permanent function at the Ryman in 1943. In 1974, a new Grand Ole Opry auditorium was completed 9 miles east of downtown within the large corporate Opryland Theme Park, but the auditorium, hotel, and theme park were heavily damaged in the 2010 Cumberland River flood.
You can feel the history when you step inside. This was the original home to the Grand Ol' Opry from 1925-1974. It was an old church that had been abandoned until good country music began feeling the air in 1025.
Nowhere in the Western World has better acoustics than the Ryman, the Holy Temple of Music Everlasting. That's all there is to it. For many years the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman now gracefully hosts the best in popular performers. The seats ain't comfortable and the views are often poor, but goshdarnit, the sound is pitch-on perfect.
Home of country music!
The auditorium was constructed as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892 by a local riverboat captain maned Thomas Ryman (1843–1904). From from 1943 until 1974 the Ryman auditorium hosted the Grand Ole Opry country radio show.
The Ryman was renovated and restored from 1992 to 1994 and is now still used for music performances.
A self-guided tour of the famous and beloved Ryman Auditorium is a MUST when you visit Nashville! Purchase your ticket at the box office on site ($13/adult); you are handed a map and directed inside. There is a short video by country music artist Trisha Yearwood, telling the history of the Ryman Auditorium (originally the Union Gospel Tabernacle) and its transformation from church to performance venue - and how it was almost lost forever! After the video, you can walk at your leisure around the perimeter to see all the wonderful displays of photos, costumes, and paraphernalia - I loved the display for Johnny and June Carter Cash. Then you can walk to the front, to the stage - there, a photographer will take your photo for $10 (WELL worth it), or you can take photos with your own camera for free (the very nice photog took pics of us with my camera too) - then you have PROOF you have stood on the Ryman stage. I loved this visit! Depending on how much you read of the displays and how long you linger, I would allow 1-2 hours for this visit. When done with the tour, but before you leave, be sure to take a photo with the "Oh Roy!" life-size sculpture of Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff, under the main staircase.