Parthenon

Also known as: The Parthenon
Centennial Park, Nashville, Tennessee

The only full-scale replica of The Parthenon in the world

Photos 

West Elevation

This is what you see when you enter the park on the main boulevard.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning November 2018

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Map 

Description 

Nashville's Parthenon is the only full scale replica of the Parthenon extant and remains the only element connected to the 1897 exposition. It is an art center (the lower level is a significant art museum) and is the location of numerous civic celebrations.

The Parthenon 

Written by J.R. Manning

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. Noted for being a center of education and the arts, Nashville had been known as "The Athens of the South" since the 1820s so a replica of The Parthenon seemed in order.

Plans for the original Parthenon were located with the aid of the British Museum. The Parthenon was built in 438 B.C.E. dedicated to the goddess Athena but was reduced to ruins in 1687 when stored gunpowder exploded. The replica in Nashville was the center of an exposition park, surrounded by 25 other structures to house exhibits.

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.

The Centennial Celebration was a major success, and upon completion, the buildings were razed with the exception of the Parthenon, by popular demand. As a temporary building, though, it did not last. By 1915, it was badly deteriorated with parts falling off. For safety sake, it was closed and roped off. Park officials decided the Parthenon should be rebuilt with permanent materials, including a new material called reinforced concrete.

The old structure was essentially demolished and a new one built in its place. The original foundation and basement were left in place with modifications in the foundation to support the heavier building. It is an exacting replica, right down to the columns leaning inward slightly. This overcomes the optical illusion of perfectly straight columns appearing to lean outward. If the columns were extended, they would all intersect about one mile above the structure.

It is the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon extant and remains the only element connected to the 1897 exposition. It is an art center (the lower level is a significant art museum) and is the location of numerous civic celebrations.

While most of us think of Nashville as The Music City and home of the Grand Ol' Opry, the Parthenon is a top tourist attraction.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1972
Reference number
72001236
NR name
Parthenon, The
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Classic Greek Temple
Areas of significance
Art; Architecture
Level of significance
State
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Building
Historic function
Museum
Current function
Museum
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Significant years
ca. 1920; 1931

Update Log 

  • September 22, 2020: New photo from Bill Eichelberger
  • December 15, 2018: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • December 14, 2018: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • December 14, 2018: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • December 14, 2018: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, added description and added photos

Related landmarks 

Sources