Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Haunted Ryman Auditorium

The South’s most famous theatre is the Ryman Auditorium located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. This building has many interesting stories connected to it including hauntings and a curse. 

A riverboat captain, Thomas Ryman had this auditorium built in 1892. He wanted to provide a permanent home for tent revivals. He called his building Union Gospel Tabernacle. 

When he died the building’s name was changed to “Ryman” in order to honor him. * After Thomas Ryman’s death the auditorium started to be used more for entertainment than religion.

The building was used for plays **, musicals and operas. Captain Ryman’s ghost started to make appearances in the auditorium when he disapproved of what was being performed. His ghost would stomp up and down the aisles creating so much noise that some performances were disrupted to the point that the audience members just left. 

Two productions that were interrupted were the Metropolitan Opera production of Carmen in the early 1900s and the production of Tobacco Road in the 1930s.

The Ryman gained most of its fame when it became the home for the Grand Ole Opry radiobroadcasts from 1943 to 1974. A veritable list of who’s who in country music performed at the Ryman during this time. 

Rumors started the building was cursed for many stars and performers that worked on its stage ended up dead. All 37  died *** in violent accidents: car crashes; plane crashes, and house fires and some were murdered. A few died from drug or alcohol abuse.

Even after the Grand Ole Opry moved to its new home located outside Nashville at the Opryland USA theme park in 1994 it was rumored that this curse continued. Some state this is because a circular oak wood section of the Ryman’s stage was cut out and moved to the new venue. Fourteen more performers have died since performing at the new location.

After the Grand Ole Opry moved, the Ryman lay vacant for twenty years and fell into disrepair.

Emmylou Harris performed a series of concerts at the Ryman in the early 1990s. These were turned into a popular album entitled, At the RymanHer concerts and recording renewed interest in the auditorium. 

It was then renovated and  reopened again in 1994 for performances, it is also used as a museum. The building was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Today the Grand Old Opry  returns once a year to the Ryman to perform.

Another ghost seen through the years in the building is a man called the “Grey Man.” The Ryman was the site for many Confederate soldier reunions. Some state one of these soldiers enjoyed the Ryman so much that he returns even though he is dead. 

His ghost is seen in the auditorium’s balcony. He sits quietly and watches as productions rehearse. When people have tried to approach him he just disappears. He makes so many appearances performers look for him while they rehearse.

There are a couple of ghosts that are heard singing in the auditorium. Mostly maintenance crews that work at night encounter these two ghosts. 

One is a mystery female called “The Lady”. It is speculated that she was a star that once performed at the Ryman. She is seen standing on the stage singing. 

The other ghost heard singing is Hank Williams Sr. It is felt that he enjoyed performing at the Ryman so much that he returns to entertain the staff as they lock up for the night. 

His ghostly apparition is also seen performing across the alley from the Ryman at Tootsie’s Orchard Lounge.

A more recent rumor is that Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie heard her father after she sang at the Ryman. 

After her performance she headed to her dressing room. But she could not get the door open, it would not budge even when her guards tried to open it. The group quickly became frustrated. 

Lisa Marie then heard her father’s familiar warm laugh and then the door opened on its own. Some stories state this was Elvis letting her know he approved of her singing. 

* In 1963 the National Life and Accident Insurance Company bought Ryman and renamed it Grand Ole Opry House.

** Three famous early actresses that performed at the Ryman included: Norma Shearer, Sarah Bernhardt and Helen Hayes.

*** Some of the performers that some say succumb to the Ryman’s curse were: Pasty Cline, Ira Louvin, Jim Reeves, Cowboy Copas, Randy Hayes, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Jack Anglin, Stringbean Akeman, Jimmy Widener, and “Texas Ruby” Fox. 

Even the near fatal accidents that Hank Williams Jr. and Jack Greene survived are attributed to this curse.

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