Mythcon 34 Nashville Guide
Nashville and Environs, an idiosyncratic Guide
by Diamond Proudbrook
First thing: Actually, Elvis was from Memphis. To take the (extremely interesting) tour of Graceland, you will need to plan a side excursion to that city, three or four hours away. However, if Country Music is your interest, I recommend seeing at least the outside of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, an intriguing old building (self-guided tour available) and “the Mother Church of Country Music.” [www.ryman.com] Elvis did fulfill his ambition to perform here in the Grand Ole Opry, but was not a hit. Since his time, the Opry has moved to a big new theatre at the Opryland complex, to my mind much too big, too tourist-y. I do recommend the striking new downtown Country Music Hall of Fame. [www.halloffame.org / 615-416-2096]
For live music, not necessarily country music, by up-and-coming singers and songwriters, a traditional and enjoyable Nashville venue is the Bluebird Café. [www.bluebirdcafe.com/ 615-383-1461]
War Between the States: There is little to see in Nashville itself. Stones River National Battlefield Park [http://www.nps.gov/stri/] is in Murfreesboro 30 miles away. About 20 miles from Nashville is the site of the bloody and decisive Battle of Franklin. The Carter House has an excellent museum, film, and tour of restored house around which the hottest of the battle raged. [www.carter-house.org/ 615-791-1861 Fax 615-794-1327] Not far away at Carnton Plantation [(615) 794-0903] you can see another restored house, with the bloodstains where injured soldiers were tended and the graveyard (on land donated by the McGavock family) where hundreds of the Confederate dead were buried. Gift shop at both.
Art Museums: Well worth seeing is the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, especially the loan exhibit “Treasures of Faith,” and above all the building itself, a loving restoration of a dazzling piece of 1930′s Art Deco, Nashville’s old Post Office. There’s a café and a gift shop. [www.fristcenter.com/ 615-244-3340]
Cheekwood, “Home of Art and Gardens,” is a beautiful estate/museum with lovely gardens, a fine lunch room, and a gift shop. Most interesting: the extraordinary primitive sculptures of William Edmondson (d.1951). [www.cheekwood.org (615) 356-8000]
The Tennessee Fox-Trot Carousel. This is art? Yes, it is, by Red Grooms. [www.artsnashville.org/pubart/grooms_tenne.html]
Belmont, the Italianate villa of an original Steel Magnolia, Adelicia Acklen, a rare woman who had money before the War, during the War, and after the War ñ due to her own pluck and grit and a couple of rich husbands. [www.belmont.edu/about/mansion.cfm 615 - 460-5459]
Belle Meade and Travellers’ Rest are also frequently visited.
[www.bellemeadeplantation.com (615) 356-0501 800-270-3991]
The Hermitage, in Lebanon, home and burial site of Andrew Jackson and his beloved Rachel. Includes museum and cafeteria. They say it’s pure coincidence that the main drive was laid out in the shape of a guitar. [www.thehermitage.com / 615- 889-2941]
The Polk Home: A half-day trip to Columbia, TN. The mansion in Nashville, Polk Place, was (sadly) demolished. But in Columbia you may tour the Polk Family Home [www.jameskpolk.com 931-388-2354] where the future President and his wife lived, and see the museum and film.
Nashville Zoo is top-notch, and we have a friend there; we might be able to get you a special tour. [www.nashvillezoo.org 615- 833-1534]
The Museum of Beverage Containers, Goodlettsville TN. How can you resist? Don’t bottle up your curiosity! (No, I haven’t been there.) [www.gono.com/vir-mus/museum.htm 1-800-826-4929]
Bear in mind, for nearly all of these, you’ll need a car. To receive a general tourist leaflet & map before coming, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are some links which may also be useful: