I’m on a business trip to one of my favorite places…Nashville. For many decades, this place has been called “Music City.”
The ‘opry,’ and the live-music scene have given the city a steady tourist trade that fills the hotels, concert halls and restaurants. Downtown is exciting, alive and full of folks til the wee hours. From BB King’s blues club to the Wildhorse Saloon, there is something for every body.
But, long before a country triad was ever strummed down here, Nashville was known as “The Athens of the South.” In fact that label led to the decision to build an incredible architectural feat for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. Many of the buildings were based on ancient buildings but one, the Parthenon, was an exact reproduction. It is now an art museum and sits as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, a huge public park just west of downtown Nashville.
It was not meant to be a permanent fixture and was built with plaster, wood and brick. The locals loved it and when weather started to destroy the building, it was decided to rebuild the entire structure in concrete. It was a twelve year project from 1920 to 1931 and that is the present structure you see.
In the original Parthenon in Athens, the centerpiece was a statue of Athena Parthenos. It has been long-lost, but with the help of some scholarly people who knew what the dimensions were of the original, a replica has been duplicated. The artist, Alan LeQuire, finished the 42 foot-high statue in 1990. Here it is with a normal sized person standing beside it.
This is just another very cool thing about Music City, the Athens of the South.