The History of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville TN
The historic Ryman Auditorium has been the home of live Nashville music since the late 19th century. Opened in 1892, the Ryman has undergone several renovations over the past century to bring the facility up to modern standards. Today, you can purchase concert tickets to the many different music acts that play regularly at the auditorium.
Construction & Opening
Originally known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, the auditorium was built by Thomas Ryman. A businessman in Nashville who owned several properties, including a line of riverboats, Ryman had the auditorium built for Samuel Porter Jones, a popular revivalist who managed to convert Ryman to a devout Christian. When Ryman died in 1904, Jones managed to have the name of the building changed to the Ryman Auditorium in his honor.
Although the auditorium originally held over 6,000 seats, that number was cut in half when the stage was added in 1901. While many of the functions held at the Ryman during its early years were religious in nature, the facility was often leased for non-religious activities to help pay off the debt incurred during construction.
Under the leadership of Lula C Naff, the auditorium began booking all sorts of acts starting in 1904. Lula eventually went full time as the booking agent for the Ryman, being one of the few females of her time in such a position. Throughout the 20th century, Lula managed to book celebrated music acts, performers such as Bob Hope and Will Rogers, and even former Presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt to give lectures which kept the Ryman at one of the most in-demand auditoriums in the South.
By 1939, the Grand Ole Opry had moved to the War Memorial Auditorium which was proving not to be an ideal venue when the Ryman was rented for the country music shows starting on June 5th, 1943. The auditorium proved to be quite popular thanks to its large size and good acoustics. For the next 31 years, the Ryman was the home of the Grand Ole Opry, hosting shows virtually every week.
Despite hosting the shows for 20 years, the auditorium was not officially renamed the Grand Ole Opry until 1963. However, most Nashville residents kept calling the facility the Ryman Auditorium. However, the building itself, despite several renovations, was simply not keeping up with the times. The combination of no air conditioning, a lack of good backstage facilities, and being in a less-than-desirable neighborhood caused the Grand Ole Opry to move to a new location in 1974
The Ryman Auditorium Today
When the Grand Ole Opry left, the building remained mostly empty over the next several years. It was not until 1993 that a series of renovations improved the building to the point where it has become a modern concert hall, selling concert tickets for many different types of musical events. Even the Grand Ole Opry returned for a brief stay in 1999 and 2010.
Today, the Ryman Auditorium continues to benefit from new renovations and has featured world-renowned acts that have brought live Nashville music to its fans. By 2018, the Ryman was named the most iconic building in all of Tennessee according to Architectural Digest, a fitting title for this remarkable building.
For concert tickets in Nashville check out LIVE MUSIC NOW.