Classical Nashville: Athens of the South

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Overview


On the occasion of Tennessee's Bicentennial, four distinguished authors offer new insights and a broader appreciation of the classical influences that have shaped the architectural, cultural, and educational history of its capital city.

Nashville has been many things: frontier town, Civil War battleground, New South mecca, and Music City, U.S.A. It is headquarters for several religious denominations, and also the home of some of the largest insurance, healthcare, and publishing concerns in the country. Located culturally as well as geographically between North and South, East and West, Nashville is centered in a web of often-competing contradictions.

One binding image of civic identity, however, has been consistent through all of Nashville's history: the classical Greek and Roman ideals of education, art, and community participation that early on led to the city's sobriquet, "Athens of the West," and eventually, with the settling of the territory beyond the Mississippi River, the "Athens of the South."

Illustrated with nearly a hundred archival and contemporary photographs, Classical Nashville shows how Nashville earned that appellation through its adoption of classical metaphors in several areas: its educational and literary history, from the first academies through the establishment of the Fugitive movement at Vanderbilt; the classicism of the city's public architecture, including its Capitol and legislative buildings; the evolution of neoclassicism in homes and private buildings; and the history and current state of the Parthenon, the ultimate symbol of classical Nashville, replete with the awe-inspiring 42-foot statue of Athena by sculptor Alan LeQuire.

Perhaps Nashville author John Egerton best captures the essence of this modern city with its solid roots in the past. He places Nashville "somewhere between the 'Athens of the West' and 'Music City, U.S.A.,' between the grime of a railroad town and the glitz of Opryland, between Robert Penn Warren and Robert Altman." Nashville's classical identifications have always been forward-looking, rather than antiquarian: ambitious, democratic, entrepreneurial, and culturally substantive. Classical Nashville celebrates the continuation of classical ideals in present-day Nashville, ideals that serve not as monuments to a lost past, but as sources of energy, creativity, and imagination for the future of a city.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Tells how the city earned the appellation "Athens of the South" through its adoption of classical Greek ideals of education, art, and architecture, and celebrates the continuation of classical ideals in present-day Nashville. Includes b&w photos and illustrations. For those interested in architecture and Southern history. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826512772
  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.33 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author


Christine M. Kreyling, architecture and urban planning critic for the Nashville Scene and adjunct curator of the Cheekwood Museum of Art, has won numerous awards for her writing on art, architecture, and urban planning. A member of several national architecture and museum organizations, she is an M.A. candidate in the Department of Fine Arts at Vanderbilt, working on a thesis concerning 19th-century American domestic architecture.

Wesley Paine, Director of the Parthenon in Nashville, has studied museum administration at the University of Oklahoma. She is a founding member of Theatre Parthenos, a non-profit theatre group that produces ancient Greek plays on the steps of the Parthenon.

Charles W. Warterfield, Jr., is an architect specializing in the restoration and preservation of historical architecture. Co-author of Notable Nashville Architecture, 1930-1980 and several other works, he is a graduate of Vanderbilt and the Yale School of Architecture.

Susan Ford Wiltshire, Professor and former Chair of Classical Studies at Vanderbilt, earned her Ph.D. in Greek and Latin at Columbia University. Among her previous publications are Public and Private in Vergil's Aeneid; Greece, Rome, and the Bill of Rights; and Seasons of Grief and Grace: A Sister's Story of AIDS.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prelude
Introduction: Nashville as Athens
Ch. I Learning, Religion, and Literature: The Classical Connections 1
Ch. II Symbols of a City: Public Architecture in Classical Styles 32
Ch. III Where We Live: The Classical Style at Home 81
Ch. IV Athena's New Dwelling: The Nashville Parthenon and the Nashville Athena 124
Conclusion: Classical Continuities 145
Notes 163
Bibliography 171
About the Authors 177
Index 179
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