Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium will undergo a $14 million expansion and renovation, officials of Ryman Hospitality Properties announced Thursday (June 26).
The project is scheduled to begin late this summer and be completed by June 2015. The venue will continue a full calendar of events and tours throughout construction.
Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2001, the Ryman Auditorium was built as the Union Gospel Tabernacle by Capt. Thomas G. Ryman in 1892 and served as the Grand Ole Opry's home from 1943 until 1974. In disrepair after the radio show moved to the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman was restored in 1994 and has regained its reputation as one of the premiere concert venues in the U.S.
The upcoming expansion will include an event space featuring a new, state-of-the-art daytime tour attraction detailing the building's history. The space will be available in the evenings for private functions.
The project also includes the construction of a dedicated restaurant space, enhanced food and beverage services and an expanded retail area with interior and exterior access. Renovation plans also include a new box office, additional restroom facilities and larger lobbies.
The expansion is aimed at capitalizing on Nashville's ever-growing tourism business, and Marty Stuart says it's a vital addition to the downtown area.
"The Ryman Auditorium has seen countless changes in the Nashville landscape since its doors opened in 1892," Stuart said. "It has somehow been a standard-bearer all the while, moving forward with the times. The new expansion to the Mother Church of Country Music is a fitting reflection of the global interest in our city as well as the world of country music. It's exciting to watch the continuance of the legacy of one of America's most cherished buildings."
The space in the actual auditorium will not be changed.
"The Ryman has always been in the best hands since this company has taken over its operation," Vince Gill said. "This is an important renovation, but the heart this company has shown for the Ryman's preservation is even more special."
Ryman Hospitality Properties, previously known as Gaylord Entertainment Company, has operated as a real estate investment trust since 2013. In addition to the Ryman Auditorium, the company also operates the Grand Ole Opry, the Wildhorse Saloon and Nashville radio station WSM-AM.