132 Acre park on Nashville's West End, Originally home to the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition
In 1895, plans were underway to celebrate Tennessee's 100th birthday. The state was in the midst of a depression and it was thought that a big party would help alleviate the financial downturn. Planning called for a six month exposition. Noted for being a center of education and the arts, Nashville had been known as "The Athens of the South" since the 1820s so along with the exposition buildings, a replica of The Parthenon seemed in order.
The large area was on the west side of Nashville and seemed like it was remote, but it was easily reached by automobile or streetcar. The exposition was declared its own city, with its own police department, fire department and a newspaper called the Centennial City. With Nashville being dry, the Centennial was declared a city so beer could be served. Visitors went home with any of the wide selection of souvenirs that were available. (Examples are on display in The Parthenon.)
Like Chicago's 1893 White City, all the buildings, including the Parthenon replica, were designed to be temporary and were built from wood and lath, covered with stucco and plastered in the interior. All the buildings were electrified and outlined with lights.
When the exposition ended, the buildings were razed with the exception of the Parthenon. The Parthenon was extremely popular with citizens of Nashville, and so it remained until the temporary nature of the structure finally rendered it unusable. It was rebuilt with more permanent materials. Today, The Parthenon is an art museum and remains a popular site to visit. For more about The Parthenon, see The Parthenon. The land was supposed to be subdivided for housing, but a newly formed Nashville Board of Park Commissioners acquired the land and began to develop it into Nashville's first large-scale park.