Ryman Auditorium

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Ryman Auditorium
Ryman Auditorium
Ryman Auditorium is located in Tennessee
Ryman Auditorium
Location 116 Fifth Ave. N
Nashville, Tennessee
Coordinates 36°9′40.6″N 86°46′42.6″W / 36.161278°N 86.778500°W / 36.161278; -86.778500Coordinates: 36°9′40.6″N 86°46′42.6″W / 36.161278°N 86.778500°W / 36.161278; -86.778500
Area 1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built 1891
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 71000819
Significant dates
Added to NRHP May 6, 1971[1]
Designated NHL January 3, 2001[2]

Ryman Auditorium (formerly Grand Ole Opry House and Union Gospel Tabernacle) is a 2,362-seat live performance venue, located at 116 5th Avenue North, in Nashville, Tennessee and is best known as the most famous home of the Grand Ole Opry. It is owned and operated by Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc.


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 Samuel Porter Jones.[3] After Ryman's death, the Tabernacle was renamed Ryman Auditorium in his honor. Architect Hugh Cathcart Thompson designed the structure.

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. (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.[4]) Even when the Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium in 1974, fans still continued to visit, see the famous stage, take photographs and buy souvenirs, and major motion pictures continued to be filmed on location at the auditorium, including John Carpenter’s Elvis (1978), the Loretta Lynn Oscar-winning biopic, Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), Sweet Dreams (1985) (the story of Patsy Cline), and Clint Eastwood’s Honkytonk Man (1982). In 1992 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".

Ryman Auditorium was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was further designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001.[2][5] In 1980 parts of Coal Miner's Daughter were filmed there, including a part where Patsy Cline comes onstage after being absent following a car wreck and a part where Ernest Tubb asks Loretta Lynn to come out and play for the good folks.

In January 2012, it was announced that the Ryman's current stage would be replaced after a 61-year run. The stage was the second for the Ryman and had lasted far longer than Ryman officials had expected it would. It had been installed in 1951. The stage will be replaced with a medium-brown Brazilian teak that will be extremely durable and also camera-friendly, an important aspect that is often overlooked.[citation needed] It will retain a 36-inch lip of the blonde oak at the front of the stage, similar to the way the Ryman stage was commemorated in a circle of wood at the new Opry House. Beneath the stage, the original hickory support beams will be kept and reinforced with concrete foundations, crossbeams and joist work that will help triple the stage's load capacity.[6]

Notable events[edit]

The venue hosts alternative rock, bluegrass, blues, country, classical, folk, gospel, jazz, pop and rock concerts, as well as musical theater and stand-up comedy shows.


  • Ryman Auditorium has been featured in several movies, including Robert Altman's Nashville (1975) starring David Arkin, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, and Karen Black; W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975) starring Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Ned Beatty, Don Williams, Mel Tillis, and Art Carney; Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones; Clint Eastwood's Honkytonk Man (1982) ; and Sweet Dreams (1985) starring Jessica Lange and Ed Harris. Neil Young used the venue in his 2006 film Neil Young: Heart of Gold.
  • Ryman Auditorium was named Pollstar Magazine's National Theatre of the Year for both 2003 and 2004, beating out such venues as New York's Radio City Music Hall and Hollywood's Gibson Universal Amphitheater. The venue also was named Theatre of the Year by Pollstar in 2010 and 2011, thereby winning the award four times in a ten-year span.
  • Each dressing room behind the stage is dedicated to a legendary performer such as Johnny Cash and Minnie Pearl.
  • When the Grand Ole Opry House opened in 1974, a circle approximately five feet in diameter was removed from the Ryman stage's original floor and inlaid into the stage floor in the new Opry House where it remains today behind the lead singer's microphone.
  • The Grand Ole Opry currently returns to Ryman Auditorium annually for a run from November through February.
  • Because of the 2010 flooding of the Cumberland River that rendered the current Grand Ole Opry House temporarily unusable, Ryman Auditorium became the primary venue for the Grand Ole Opry when it was available.[8] This arrangement continued until the restored Opry House reopened on September 28, 2010. Because of its location away from the river, Ryman Auditorium was unaffected by the flooding.
  • A Prairie Home Companion's website dubbed the Ryman “God’s Own Listening Room” in the week leading up to a March 26, 2011 show at the venue.
  • From 1968 through 1973, the Country Music Association's annual CMA Awards were held in the Ryman, before moving to the new Opry in 1974.
  • A fun fact about the Ryman is that during the early 1900s, the Ryman hosted two U.S. Presidents: President Teddy Roosevelt on Oct. 22, 1907 and President Taft on Nov. 9, 1911.
  • Other notable, influential and historic speakers to lecture from the Ryman stage include Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy in 1913 (this was the Ryman’s first sold out event), Charlie Chaplin in 1918 and Eleanor Roosevelt in 1938.[6]
  • During Grand Ole Opry performances, many artists would exit the south side door of the Ryman and cross the alley to enter the back door of Tootsie's Orchid Lounge for their favorite adult beverage, and sometimes would perform for the patrons.
  • The University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band shows tribute to Nashville and the Ryman Auditorium by playing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" during their famous Circle Drill.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b "Ryman Auditorium". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  3. ^ Williams, Peter W. (2000). Houses of God: Region, Religion, and Architecture in the United States, p. 123. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06917-X.
  4. ^ Smith, Loran (January 24, 2013). "A visit to the Grand Ole Opry brings precious memories". The News-Reporter. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Dr. Frank J.J. Miele, Patty Henry, Kira Badamo, and Shannon Davis (, 2000). National Historic Landmark Nomination: Ryman Auditorium / Union Gospel Tabernacle (pdf). National Park Service.  Check date values in: |date= (help) and Accompanying eight photos from 2000 and two historic photos (see photo captions page 20 of text document) PDF (32 KB)
  6. ^ a b Smith, Hannah. "New Stage Coming to Nashville's Ryman Auditorium". Nashvilleonthemove.com. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Edward Morris (2007-04-20). "News : Josh Turner Rocks Ryman Crowd for Live CD". CMT. Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  8. ^ "Calendar of Shows - Opry.com". Search2.opry.com. 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2012-02-01. 


  • Eiland, William. Nashville's Mother Church: The History of the Ryman Auditorium. Nashville, 1992.
  • Graham, Eleanor, ed. Nashville, A Short History and Selected Buildings. Hist. Comm. of Metro-Nashville-Davidson Co., 1974.
  • Hagan, Chet. Grand Ole Opry. New York, 1989.
  • Henderson, Jerry. "A History of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, 1892-1920." (Ph. D. Diss., Louisiana State University) Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1962.

External links[edit]