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History of the Nashville Parthenon and the Tennessee Centennial Exposition

Exploring the History of the Centennial Exposition


Photo Credit: Metro Parks Board

Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897

The construction of 36 other buildings followed, with the Parthenon setting the theme. Some of these were the Commerce Building , Memphis Shelby Co. Tennessee Pyramid, Womens Building and the Negro Building, which provided a speaking ground for such notables as Booker T. Washington.

With the time constraints of having to complete the Exposition grounds by 1896, all of the Buildings were constructed using materials that would only survive through the duration of the Exposition.

Because of bureaucratic red tape and the Presidential elections of 1896, the Grand Centennial Exposition did not occur until 1897, one year after the statehood celebration. Even with the delayed opening, The Centennial Celebration was a huge success, with over 1.8 million visitors over a 6-month period.

Within two yeas of the close of the Centennial Exposition, all of the buildings had been torn down with the exception of three, The Parthenon, The Alabama Building and the Knights of Pythias building, which was later removed and became a private residence in Franklin Tennessee. When it came time to remove the Parthenon, there was such a revolt in Nashville, that the demolition was halted.

The Parthenon replica built with its temporary materials lasted for 23 years. In 1920 because of the popularity of the structure, the city of Nashville, over the next 11 years replaced the plaster, wood and brick building using permanent materials, and that version still stands today.

Photo Gallery of the Nashville Parthenon

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