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The Ryman Auditorium is a 2,362-seat live performance venue located in Nashville, Tennessee, and is best-known as the one-time home of the Grand Ole Opry. It was previously known as Grand Old Opry House and also as Union Gospel Tabernacle.The auditorium first opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. It was built by Thomas Ryman (1843–1904), a riverboat captain and Nashville businessman who owned several saloons. Ryman conceived of the auditorium as a tabernacle for the influential revivalist Sam Jones. After Ryman’s death, the Tabernacle was renamed Ryman Auditorium in his honor. It was used for Grand Ole Opry broadcasts from 1943 until 1974, when the Opry built a larger venue just outside Nashville at the Opryland USA theme park. The Ryman then sat mostly vacant and fell into disrepair until 1992 when Emmylou Harris and her band, the Nash Ramblers, performed a series of concerts there (the results of which appeared on her album At the Ryman). The Harris concerts renewed interest in restoring the Ryman, and it was reopened as an intimate performance venue and museum in 1994. Audiences at the Ryman find themselves sitting in pews, the 1994 renovation notwithstanding. The seating is a reminder of the auditorium’s origins as a house of worship, hence giving it the nickname “The Mother Church of Country Music”.
The Ryman Auditorium was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was further designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001.