Nashville Virtual Tour:
Long before “Music City USA,” Nashville, Tennessee was considered the Athens of the South. Before the Grand Ole Opry was formed, Nashville was known primarily, as a Southern city rich in culture. Because of the many schools of higher learning, publishing1 and the first Southern city to establish a public school system, the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897 (a year late) choose a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens as the symbol of this unique community.
“Originally built of plaster, wood, and brick, the Parthenon was not intended to be permanent, but the cost of demolishing the structure combined with its popularity with residents and visitors alike resulted in it being left standing after the Exposition… it was rebuilt from 1920-1925, and the interior completed in 1931. It was rehabilitated again in 2002.” – wikipedia
Nashville had no particular ties to country music before the Opry, other than in music print publishing. But it was National Life and Accident Insurance2 Company’s WSM (We Shield Millions) radio with the first long distance station east of the Mississippi, that developed the branding of country music. Originally the radio station played a variety of musical styles. The first singer was Joesph Tant Mcpherson (later with the Old Hickory Singers) a baritone former New York Metropolitan Opera singer. But the overwhelming feedback from the rural communities won out, and Country Music was selected as the focus. Life and Casualty Insurance (L&C), took the same branding approach with R&B on their WLAC Radio Station.
1 The Nashville based Southwestern Company, predates the Civil War, and produced many of the pocket Bibles soldiers carried. It also published the Bible that Jefferson Davis was sworn in on.
2 After the American Civil War the south lay in ruins. One of the industries that benefited from this state of affairs were insurance companies. Protecting ones future assets was very appealing to the southern populace. It fueled the growth of companies like National Life and Life and Casualty Insurance, creating new wealth for it’s Nashville based owners.
“Whereas only 43 companies existed on the eve of the war, the newfound popularity of life insurance resulted in the establishment of 107 companies between 1865 and 1870” – EH.net
It’s interesting how many former Confederate offices sold insurance after the war. Notables were: George Pickett, John Bell Hood, Heth Henry, Lafayette Mclaws, Beverly Robertson, James Longstreet and Joseph E. Johnston.
#parthenon #athensofthesouth #nashville
Revision 1.0 – See the Nashville Parthenon in 360º panorama below. Expand your screen for a more immersive virtual tour experience. In order to load on most computer browsers, the resolution here is half the original file size.