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Grand Old Opry/Nashville TN

Opry House’s famed circle stays
center stage after flood

 NASHVILLE — Country music’s most famous circle is
unbroken.

Cut from the stage of the Ryman Auditorium and
inserted into the Grand Ole Opry House stage as a
nod to history, the 6-foot circle of oak was
submerged in 2 feet of floodwater during the city’s
record storms May 1 and 2. The rest of the
waterlogged stage will likely be trashed, but the
circle, where Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy
Cline and other greats stood and sang, is
irreplaceable. 

“It is in remarkably good condition,” says Grand Ole
Opry Group president Steve Buchanan. “We will
ultimately need to replace the stage. But the circle 

 
will be center stage when we open back up.”

Buchanan declined to specify what else made it
through the flooding. He and others are still
searching through the rubble. The water is gone
from the auditorium and backstage, though noxious
filth remains. It should take three to four weeks to
clean the mud off, after which the process of
assessing and repairing damage will begin. 

“The destruction is on a grand scale,” Buchanan
says. “We will not feel a sense of relief until we have
hopefully been able to restore or rebuild.” 

On Thursday, workers emptied soaked lockers in the
backstage hallways, where performers stash their
rhinestone stage costumes and iconic guitars. 

“We were very happy with the amount of stuff that
got saved,” Colin Reed, CEO of Opry parent company
Gaylord Entertainment, told reporters at a news
conference the same day. “There were instruments”
that sustained damage. “(Little) Jimmy Dickens had a
few suits. … We hope they haven’t shrunk.” 

The punch line drew nervous laughter. “If we didn’t
make light of it, we would be in perpetual tears,”
Reed says. 

On May 2, with rain pouring down and the nearby
Cumberland River rising, a team worked to move
valuables to higher elevations. Archival
photographs and tapes were saved, as well as
numerous items at the Grand Ole Opry Museum. 

At 10 p.m., word came that water had breached the
levee. Less than 12 hours later, water covered all
but the top four rows of the auditorium and spread
throughout the building.

“It’s a profound loss,” says Opry member Marty
Stuart. “In my dressing room, there was a tapestry
made from Porter Wagoner’s last suit. I don’t know if
that made it through or not. There was a lot of stuff
that I want to know about: the Roy Acuff instrument
collection, Marty Robbins’ costumes. It’s hard to
wrap my head around all of it.” 

The Opry show will bounce between venues until its
home is patched and polished, probably by year’s
end. Opry members will grin and bear the traveling
life: On Thursday, Brad Paisley tweeted, “Can’t wait to
play the Opry tomorrow night. Feels about as
important to me as the very first time I ever played
it.” 

For others, the joy will come when the Opry House
reopens. 

“Standing center stage in (that) circle of wood is
something I never take for granted,” Blake Shelton
says. “The history and legacy of that circle is awe-
inspiring.” 

The flood will extend that history, not destroy it.
The circle has now withstood the click of Tammy
Wynette’s high heels, decades of stage-light burn
and a prolonged Cumberland dunk. 

"A profound loss": The Grand Ole Opry House (and Opry Mills Mall, top) inundated with floodwaters on Tuesday in Nashville. The stage will be replaced, except for the oak circle cut from Ryman Auditorium.
  By Jeff Roberson, AP
“A profound loss”: The Grand Ole Opry House (and Opry Mills Mall, top)
inundated with floodwaters on Tuesday in Nashville. The stage will be
replaced, except for the oak circle cut from Ryman Auditorium. 

 

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Grand Old Opry/Nashville TN

Opry House’s famed circle stays
center stage after flood

 NASHVILLE — Country music’s most famous circle is
unbroken.

Cut from the stage of the Ryman Auditorium and
inserted into the Grand Ole Opry House stage as a
nod to history, the 6-foot circle of oak was
submerged in 2 feet of floodwater during the city’s
record storms May 1 and 2. The rest of the
waterlogged stage will likely be trashed, but the
circle, where Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy
Cline and other greats stood and sang, is
irreplaceable. 

“It is in remarkably good condition,” says Grand Ole
Opry Group president Steve Buchanan. “We will
ultimately need to replace the stage. But the circle 

 
will be center stage when we open back up.”

Buchanan declined to specify what else made it
through the flooding. He and others are still
searching through the rubble. The water is gone
from the auditorium and backstage, though noxious
filth remains. It should take three to four weeks to
clean the mud off, after which the process of
assessing and repairing damage will begin. 

“The destruction is on a grand scale,” Buchanan
says. “We will not feel a sense of relief until we have
hopefully been able to restore or rebuild.” 

On Thursday, workers emptied soaked lockers in the
backstage hallways, where performers stash their
rhinestone stage costumes and iconic guitars. 

“We were very happy with the amount of stuff that
got saved,” Colin Reed, CEO of Opry parent company
Gaylord Entertainment, told reporters at a news
conference the same day. “There were instruments”
that sustained damage. “(Little) Jimmy Dickens had a
few suits. … We hope they haven’t shrunk.” 

The punch line drew nervous laughter. “If we didn’t
make light of it, we would be in perpetual tears,”
Reed says. 

On May 2, with rain pouring down and the nearby
Cumberland River rising, a team worked to move
valuables to higher elevations. Archival
photographs and tapes were saved, as well as
numerous items at the Grand Ole Opry Museum. 

At 10 p.m., word came that water had breached the
levee. Less than 12 hours later, water covered all
but the top four rows of the auditorium and spread
throughout the building.

“It’s a profound loss,” says Opry member Marty
Stuart. “In my dressing room, there was a tapestry
made from Porter Wagoner’s last suit. I don’t know if
that made it through or not. There was a lot of stuff
that I want to know about: the Roy Acuff instrument
collection, Marty Robbins’ costumes. It’s hard to
wrap my head around all of it.” 

The Opry show will bounce between venues until its
home is patched and polished, probably by year’s
end. Opry members will grin and bear the traveling
life: On Thursday, Brad Paisley tweeted, “Can’t wait to
play the Opry tomorrow night. Feels about as
important to me as the very first time I ever played
it.” 

For others, the joy will come when the Opry House
reopens. 

“Standing center stage in (that) circle of wood is
something I never take for granted,” Blake Shelton
says. “The history and legacy of that circle is awe-
inspiring.” 

The flood will extend that history, not destroy it.
The circle has now withstood the click of Tammy
Wynette’s high heels, decades of stage-light burn
and a prolonged Cumberland dunk. 

"A profound loss": The Grand Ole Opry House (and Opry Mills Mall, top) inundated with floodwaters on Tuesday in Nashville. The stage will be replaced, except for the oak circle cut from Ryman Auditorium.
  By Jeff Roberson, AP
“A profound loss”: The Grand Ole Opry House (and Opry Mills Mall, top)
inundated with floodwaters on Tuesday in Nashville. The stage will be
replaced, except for the oak circle cut from Ryman Auditorium. 

 

Leave a Comment

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *

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