Unfortunately, when I spoke with the Nashville Visitor Information I inquired about touring the Grand Ole Opry, thinking it was still housed at the Ryman Auditorium. We followed their directions, 10 miles north to the Grand Ole Opry Convention Center. As we were traveling North on SR 155, Briley Parkway, I mentioned to Ken that I thought the Ryman was down town! When we arrived at the Convention Center I knew we were in the wrong place! I immediately called the Nashville Visitor Information again and asked for information on touring the Ryman Auditorium. Discovered their last tour was at 4 PM and they did have space available. It was now 3 PM.
Following their directions, we drove 10 miles south on SR 155, Briley Parkway, passed right I-40, Exit (you guessed it!) Exit 212!! Then we drove the four miles to the Ryman.
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. After Ryman's death, the Tabernacle was renamed Ryman Auditorium in his honor.
The Ryman Auditorium!
The Grand Ole Opry stage.
Looking up to the balcony. The paneling in front of the balcony is the original panel.
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".
Original cast iron steps leading to the balcony.
A timeline was posted in the hallway outside the balcony, showing everyone who has performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
The balcony. The beautiful stained glass windows were added during the renovation.
Exhibits of costumes worn by various performers. June Carter and Johnny Cash displayed in the center picture.
We are so glad we made the effort to tour the old Auditorium! Highly recommend it.
After the tour, we hooked up to the motor home and drove about 40 miles east of Nashville and stayed at a small campground in Lebanon, TN.