Perhaps no other single structure among Nashville’s buildings so epitomizes Music City’s spirit as the Ryman Auditorium. Recognized around the world as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman is best known for having hosted the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly radio show, for decades. However, the history of the Ryman transcends genres and is closely intertwined with the history of Nashville itself.
The red-brick Victorian Gothic auditorium at 116 Fifth Avenue North in downtown Nashville. Tennessee might appear out-of-place today, nestled among office towers, a sprawling convention center, and a futuristic sports arena. The AT&T Tower, the city’s other signature edifice, rises 600 feet above the city just a block away. But if the modern visitor wanders down Fifth Avenue to the row of honky-tonks which still line Lower Broadway, one can imagine the sense of wonder and excitement the Ryman Auditorium inspired in music lovers half a century or more ago.