While much has changed since the first settlements in the eighteenth century, modern Nashville is celebrated for its architecture, diversity, transportation, and commerce. But the passing of time is deeply engraved in Nashville’s physical identity.
The architecture juxtaposes the old with the new to demonstrate the rich history while showcasing its gradual transformation into modernity.
Nashville is not just a hub for music and a vibrant arts community. It’s also a city rich in iconic and architecturally breathtaking buildings. Here is a peek into the architecture and beautifully designed structures that define the city.
Why Nashville’s Classical Architecture Stands Out
Nashville is unique and has been many things: Civil war battlefield, frontier town, site for the exposition of arts, education, business, music industry base, current food mecca, health care capital, and the hub of acclaimed parks.
But one image of the Nashville city has remained the same — the embodiment of classical ideals of art, education, and community involvement.
Neoclassicism is evident in the designs and architecture of the War Memorial Building, the Capitol, and other legislative buildings. Similarly, the city’s homes and private properties share the theme. But the Parthenon is the ultimate symbol of classical architecture in Nashville, TN.
Nevertheless, it’s plain to see that most of the classically influenced architecture in Nashville is ambitious and forward-looking, entrepreneurial, and culturally substantive. The architecture doesn’t symbolize monuments of a lost past, but it is a source of creativity, energy, and a vivid imagination for the future of the vibrant city.
Architecture and Iconic Buildings That Define Nashville
1. The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum
Its front windows resemble piano keys, and when viewed from the sky, the building forms a bass clef. The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is the ultimate symbol of the Nashville music scene in every architectural detail.
This masterpiece was designed by Tuck-Hinton Architects and was constructed with concrete, wood, stone, and steel. Notably, they used Georgia yellow pine to make the floors. The Rotunda in the building is an innovative cylindrical structure resembling a water tower or drum kit.
The four tiers on its roof demonstrate how recording technology has evolved over time –from the LP to the CD. And most importantly, stone bars on the outside walls depict the notes of the Carter Family’s song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
2. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
This was once the home of President Andrew Jackson and the first lady Rachel. The Hermitage was completed in 1821. It is a two-story building designed in the Federal-style, and it’s built with bricks manufactured by slaves.
There were eight rooms in total –four on each of the floors. In 1831, Andrew Jackson remodeled the mansion with the help of a renowned architect David Morrison. The fireplace mantel was remodeled with high-gloss paint and carved. There is also a huge library with plank flooring, and the two parlors feature multiple crystal chandeliers and Italian marble mantels.
3. The Tennessee State Capitol
The Tennessee State Capitol was built on the spot where the Holy Rosary Cathedral originally stood. The hastings architect William Strickland designed the structure and modeled it after the Greek Ionic temple, and it was completed in 1859.
The exterior and interior are built with limestone, while some of its interior columns are cut from single pieces of stone. The roof trusses are made from wrought iron, and there’s an iconic lantern structure above the roofline, modeled after the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens.
4. The Parthenon
Located in Nashville’s Centennial Park, Parthenon was built in 1897. It is a unique replica of the Athenian temple found in Greece, widely considered the pinnacle of classical architecture firms in Nashville TN, due to its amazing polychrome decorations.
Originally it was built with wood, brick, and plaster, and it was not designed to be a permanent building. However, from 1920-1931, interior and exterior renovations were completed. Notably, in 2002, the Parthenon got a full makeover that upgraded the exterior design and installed lighting to illuminate the columns with different color schemes.
5. The Ryman Auditorium
Nashville city’s most iconic live music events venue is the Ryman Auditorium. The architect design is the brainchild of a talented architect Hugh Cathcart Thompson and was commissioned in 1892. The original plans and design for the building included a balcony, but due to insufficient funds, the structure didn’t get a balcony until 1897.
In 1989, The Gaylord Entertainment Company started renovations on the exterior of the building. They installed a brand new roof and replaced broken bricks and windows. But the interior remained untouched until 2012 when remodeling commenced for a new stage designed with medium-brown Brazilian teak.
The new platform was Supported by the original hickory support beams and reinforced with a strong concrete foundation, thus tripling the stage’s load capacity. But the most recent update work on the Ryman Auditorium cost about $14 million and included renovations and expansion finalized in 2015.
The architecture in Nashville has evolved over the years. However, the skyline is changing rapidly, and it’s ahead of most cities’ skylines in the United States. Just like with the historic structures that define the Hastings architecture, there’s a classical touch in the Nashville modern architecture and emerging buildings.