Grand Ole Time in Nashville: Day 6

Grand Ole Opry

Yvette Mendoza

Notable country music shines through the streets of Nashville that lead us to the Grand Ole Opry, where many iconic country artists have walked through the halls of this music venue and have done outstanding performances; we were excited to see it all.

Taking a tour allowed us to see the behind-the-scenes as well as the history embedded through the halls of the Grand Ole Opry.

Beginning in 1943, when the Grand Ole Opry would have been originally broadcasted from the Ryman Auditorium, every show was continuously sold out. Not having enough seats in the arena turned away fans, and they finally decided in 1974 to build their own venue, one that is twice as large, holding more than 440,000 country lovin’ fanatics.

Roy Acuff, the “King of Country ,” performed at almost every show. In his later life he resided on the property of the Opry. Although Roy was a frequent performer, there were many other phenomenal artists that totaled 223 members of the Opry which include, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Gene Watson (recently at the Old Town Theatre!), and Darius Rucker. 

Walking through the entrance of the auditorium, we saw country decor everywhere–including the ceiling, which had $90,000 Gibson guitars floating above us.

And backstage was more unique and different adornments. There were two massive-size portraits of Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff, and a semi-cluttered scene of music stands and microphones in one section. 

Continuing our walk through the back, we saw the mailboxes and placards for each member of the Opry. Dolly Parton had a box full of fan mail waiting to be opened.

As for the wall full of placards for each member, they were all gold plated.

Right around the corner would be the 23 dressing rooms, all having their own theme and specific photos of celebrities in each of them.

The significant rooms that were favored by the LEAP Ambassadors were Roy Acuff’s dedication room, the veterans’ room, and the glitteriest room #19 (Dolly’s chosen dressing room).

Each artist performing could choose whichever room they desire, but celebrities were mainly gathered in the “Family Room” located outside of the dressing rooms. This middle room had plenty of seating and a beautiful Archie Campbell mural to admire the Opry and Hee Haw cast that shot 13 episodes on stage. 

Topping off our tour, we became country music legends being able to walk into the infamous circle on the center stage. The Grand Ole Opry gave a true sense of Nashville music and culture. In the city of country music, we now know where to “get our honky tonk on”.

Lunch and Belle Meade

Jessica Cuevas

After having our grand debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage, where the city Nashville’s music lives, we headed over to the historic Belle Meade Mansion and Winery.

The inside of the grand carriage house has been redesigned into a nice, neat country styled kitchen and dining area where we were greeted with servers and had a wonderful three-course meal. Our appetizer was a salad that consisted of spinach leaves garnished with berries, walnuts, goat cheese, and topped off with a balsamic dressing. The entrée was a plate of chicken, green beans, red skin mashed potato, and a corn-flour pancake.

As for dessert we had Tennessee style peach cobbler.

While we waited for the rest of our tour group to finish up their meal, we ventured off into the stable right across where the horses would have been held near the carriage house.

In there, were displayed a variety of different carriages that would have been used in the 19th century.

John Harding, husband of Selene Jackson, had The Belle Meade, a two-story federal home constructed in 1819. His son, William Giles Harding’s additions to the home transformed it into the Greek Revival styled home we saw today. Upon entering we quickly noticed many similarities and differences to General Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage, such as the grand entrance hallway with a spiral staircase.

Belle Meade has hosted many important people from our history such as Davy Crockett, General Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Jackson, President Cleveland, and even Sam Houston!

Morgan’s favorite room was the Parlor room where the weddings and funerals would be held with the last event being William Harding Jr. (“little Billy’s”) funeral. Similar to the Hermitage having received many visitors and having a place for them to stay and eat, so did Belle Meade. In fact, they placed a ruby red stained glass above the front door on the first and second floors that was indicated as a symbol to let others know not only that they are wealthy but also that they could seek refuge in this home, which Yvette found extremely interesting. My favorite room was the library, specifically the hooves of the great sire Bonnie Scotland, the horse of General William Harding, being featured as ink wells as a memoir. I learned that from this sire came 11 of the 13 triple crown winners such as Sea Biscuit, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and eight others.

This home would be in the family for three generations before it would be sold to the state who would then sell it to the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee.

Once we toured the home, we played bocce, cornhole, and putt putt golf.

Despite there being a sign that read “the loser buys ice cream” we played for fun before heading to what once was the chicken coop but has since then been repurposed to be their Coop ‘N Scoop Ice Cream and Home-Made Fudge Shop. Yvette got the Strawberry flavored ice cream and Morgan had the Peach ice cream drizzled with chocolate blackberry wine sauce. As for me, I got the cookies and cream flavored ice cream on a sugar cone. 

Assembly Food Hall

Morgan Robertson

To wrap up our day we ventured to a food court style establishment, complete with live music and many different food choices. Assembly Food Hall right in the heart of Downtown Nashville, is the perfect place for people with different food interests. For example, our choices ranged from brick oven margherita pizza for Yvette, pepperoni pizza for Jessica, chicken sausage for Stephanie, crepes for Professor Yawn, and a Hawaiian poke bowl for me. 

Our wide variety allowed for some good conversation over good food, but another interesting aspect extended to the architecture of some buildings. When the city was still being established, the architects would try and emulate the designs and styles they wanted to reflect in their city. Nashville clearly wanted to present itself as a grand city with classical architecture. Many of the older churches are done in Victorian or gothic styles which gives a major contrast to the night life on fifth street. 

We were in fact lucky enough to make our way into the former train station in Nashville, now a refurbished hotel. The building represents the day-to-day bustle and travel in and out of the city. The gothic exterior quickly transforms into a grand entryway with high ceilings covered with stain glass paneling. Most Likely for decor now, there is a very prominent clock visible from almost every point in the lobby, which at one time was a crucial part in people’s travel. 

Our meal and brief train station tour gave insight of the past and today’s very lively and loud present of Nashville.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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