The National Park Service (NPS) is designating Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry, as a National Historic Landmark.

The National Park Service (NPS) is designating Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry, as a National Historic Landmark.

Frank Miele, a senior historian with the NPS, said the Ryman was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 for its cultural importance to Nashville and Tennessee. Some 70,000 sites are on the register. But it was the Ryman's national significance that led to its designation as a National Historic Landmark, a designation that 2,000 sites have earned.

"One factor that propelled it to the limelight is the fact it was associated, between 1943 and 1974, with the Grand Ole Opry," Miele said. "The Grand Ole Opry was important in the evolution, dissemination, commercialization, and institutionalization of country music."

The Ryman will be honored today at a ceremony. Miele, U.S. Rep. Bob Clement, and many country music artists are scheduled to attend.

Thomas Ryman, a riverboat captain, built the structure as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. The Opry moved to a suburban location in 1974, but the Ryman is still used for concerts.

"Anything that helps spread the word about this treasure of a building that is in our stewardship is a wonderful happening," said Tom Adkinson, spokesman for Gaylord Entertainment, which owns the Ryman.


AP LogoCopyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.