Travel: The Parthenon, Nashville TN

Parthenon, Nashville.JPG
By Mayur Phadtare – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It is something, to be standing in Nashville and yet looking at ancient Greece. The Parthenon in Centennial Park, in Nashville, Tennessee, is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. It was designed by Confederate veteran William Crawford Smith and built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

We decided to drive by to see it at nighttime, all lit up. Unfortunately (for us), at this time it is undergoing renovations and is enclosed in construction fencing. Judy and I found where the fence breaks to allow you up on the walkway. What a treat! The old marble, the towering pillars and the massive bronze doors! Just simply amazing!

I would love to one day return in daylight and to visit the museum within.

For more information, please visit their website:

Per Wiki:


The reproduction Athena Parthenos statue

Nashville’s nickname, the “Athens of the South”, influenced the choice of the building as the centerpiece of the 1897 Centennial Exposition. A number of buildings at the exposition were based on ancient originals. However, the Parthenon was the only one that was an exact reproduction. It was also the only one that was preserved by the city, although the Knights of Pythias Pavilion building was purchased and moved to nearby Franklin, Tennessee.

Major Eugene Castner Lewis was the director of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition and it was at his suggestion that a reproduction of the Parthenon be built in Nashville to serve as the centerpiece of Tennessee’s Centennial Celebration. Lewis also served as the chief civil engineer for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad. Originally built of plaster, wood, and brick, the Parthenon was not intended to be permanent, but the cost of demolishing the structure combined with its popularity with residents and visitors alike resulted in it being left standing after the Exposition. In 1895 George Julian Zolnay was “employed to make models for the ornamentation” for the building. Within the next 20 years, weather had caused deterioration of the landmark; it was then rebuilt on the same foundations, in concrete, in a project that started in 1920; the exterior was completed in 1925 and the interior in 1931.

The Bronze Doors (info from placard)

The bronze doors each way 7.5 tons and are 6.5 feet wide, 24 feet high and 1 foot thick; they are thought to be the largest matching set of bronze doors in the world. The doors are balanced on a steel hinge with ball-bearing collars at the top and bottom that enable them to move easily. In contrast, the doors of the ancient Parthenon were probably made of wood, elaborately decorated with bronze and required the semi-circular track in the floor to bear part of the load.

Nashville architect Russell Hart designed these doors incorporating figureheads sculpted b Leopold Scholz and Belle Belle Kinney. The relief sculptures relate to the goddess Athena; at the top is a ram (fierceness), the center panel displays Medusa, and the lower figure is a lion representing courage They are manufactured by the General Bronze Compain in Long Island, New York, and were installed in 1930. The doors at the opposite end of the building are another matching pair.

Outside of the Parthenon is a mosaic installation. My friend, Judy, took it for a ride. And yes, she stayed on a full 8 Seconds!

Lizzie, Dragon of the Courtyard, 2005 by Sherri Warner Hunter 

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