Nashville has a rich history that few American cities can rival. Well known as being the Music City, Nashville is known for its attractions like the Grand Ole Opry and the Music City Convention Center. Yet these tourist attractions and historical landmarks do not tell the whole story. With this in mind, today we will explore some of the lesser known facts about the Music City!
1. Nashville is named after a Revolutionary War General
Nashville gets its name from Patriot general Francis Nash. General Nash was a Revolutionary War hero who fell in battle. Nash’s name was also used for the now historical landmark of Fort Nashborough. As an additional fun fact: Andrew Jackson’s wife Rachel Donelson lived in Fort Nashborough as a young woman.
2. The designer of the Tennessee Capitol is buried there
William Strickland is best known for his work as the designer and architect of the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville. He was so proud of his crowning achievement that he elected to be entombed near the structure’s cornerstone. A prominent Tennessee businessman named Samuel Morgan is also buried at the Capitol. Interestingly, US President James Polk is also buried in a freestanding mausoleum on the Tennessee Capitol grounds. The mausoleum itself was designed by Strickland.
3. Nashville’s Tin Pan South is the largest songwriter’s festival on earth
It might be unfair to say that this is a “little known” fact, but in the wake of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry, and Ryman Auditorium, the songwriter’s festival known as Tin Pan South brings musicians from around the world to Nashville. The event is coordinated by the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), which itself is the “world’s largest not-for-profit songwriters trade association.” The NSAI holds true to the musical history of Nashville by putting the music first with resources touting “specialized expertise for every stage of your career.”
4. Nashville is the home of “Old Glory”
American history buffs will likely know the story of Captain William Driver and his beloved flag, “Old Glory”. Driver was a shipmaster in Salem, MA when he rescued mutineers in the early 1830’s. Upon completion of the mission, his men presented Driver with a flag, to which he blurted out, “Old Glory!” Old Glory became a symbol of American Unity years later during the Civil War. Then retired to Nashville, Driver kept his prized flag even after Tennessee seceded from the Union. When the Union captured Nashville from Rebel Soldiers, Driver triumphantly retrieved Old Glory from its hiding place within his bed cover to the amazement of the soldiers. Captain Driver and his devotion to the flag remain a part of Nashville’s complex history to this day.
5. A Vanderbilt student helped bring seeing-eye dogs to the US
Now a common practice for those with vision loss, seeing-eye dogs had virtually no presence in the US until the 1920’s. Then Vanderbilt student Morris Frank traveled abroad to explore the possibility of seeing-eye dogs and service animals for the visually impaired. A blind man, Frank returned to Nashville in 1928 where he established “The Seeing Eye, Inc.” The Seeing Eye remains a resource for residents inside and out of Nashville.
6. Nashville is home to a rare example of Egyptian Revival Architecture in the US
Yes, you read that correctly! The Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville was completed in 1851. It is one of the few remaining American structures which were erected in the Egyptian revival architecture style. Egyptian architecture is well known for use of bold pillars, sharp angles, and intricate stonework. The Downtown Presyterian Church is well worth a visit for any fans of architecture or those who want to see a piece of history.
7. Nashville was the first
Due to its location and long history, Nashville has been at the center of some of America’s most volatile moments in history. In a landmark occasion for Civil rights, Nashville became the first southern city to desegregate public businesses in response to civil sit-ins staged by local college students. Other cities and states would later follow, which continued the momentum of desegregation and pushing for equal rights in the American south. American civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis was one of the college students who participated in the sit-ins in Nashville.
Whether you are interested in Nashville’s rich history or in its quirky entertainment offerings, the Music City has more to offer than initially meets the eye!
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