Samuel Porter Jones, born October 16, 1847 in Oak Bowery, Alabama, was an American lawyer and businessman. Although he was known as a brilliant lawyer, he was also an alcoholic. One day he found the light, quit drinking and became ordained as a Methodist preacher, like his grandfather, great-grandfather and four of his uncles. Subsequently he became a prominent Methodist revivalist preacher across the Southern United States. In his sermons, he preached that alcohol and idleness were sinful.
Thomas Green Ryman was born October 12, 1841 in Nashville, Tennessee. He learned the trade of his father, a fisherman. After the Civil War he prospered in Nashville with a fleet of riverboats and saloons. He was a wealthy and respected leader in Nashville. He had heard of Samuel Jones and went with some of his friends in 1885 to the tent revival with intent to heckle Jones. Instead Ryman was so impressed with Jones that he was converted on the spot. Soon after, he pledged to build a tabernacle so the people of Nashville could attend the large-scale revival indoors. Construction of the Union Gospel Tabernacle began in 1889 and opened in 1892. Though the building was designed to be a house of worship, a purpose it continued to serve throughout most of its early existence, it was often leased to promoters for non-religious events in an effort to pay off its debts and remain open.
Upon his death on December 23, 1904, the Union Gospel Tabernacle was renamed The Ryman Auditorium.
We toured The Ryman. The venue is very popular because of the church’s acoustics.
The church has 250 pews, which seats 2362.
These are the original oak pews from 1892. Not that comfortable to sit on for a 2 hour show.