Thomas Ryman was a riverboat captain when he went to see popular revivalist Samuel Porter Jones address a crowd in Nashville. With plans to heckle Jones, Ryman instead emerged a changed man and decided to build a tabernacle where Jones could speak to large crowds. In the ensuing years, dozens of famed musicians, politicians and performers have appeared on the auditorium’s stage – from President Teddy Roosevelt to Harry Houdini to Charlie Chaplin. But, the “Mother Church of Country Music” is perhaps best known for its three-decade run as the host of the Grand Ole Opry. While the auditorium – located in the heart of downtown Nashville – eventually fell into a state of disrepair, this National Historic Landmark has been revitalized and transformed into one of the most famous music venues. The Ryman still regularly hosts concerts and is open during the day as a museum.
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