Grand Ole Opry Undergoes Flood Repairs

Country artists and fans will be relieved to hear that despite being covered in nearly 4 feet of water, the 6-foot circle of wood in the middle of the Grand Ole Opry House stage survived Nashville’s flood and is said to be in “remarkably good condition.”

The circle was created out of floorboards from the old Ryman Auditorium stage when the show moved to the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974.

“Standing on center stage in the 6-foot circle of wood … is something I never take for granted,” singer Blake Shelton said. “The history and legacy of that circle is awe-inspiring.”

Last week Dierks Bentley said he was especially worried about the significant circle after witnessing the damage the flood did to his own Nashville home.

“At my house, if water touches anything, it’s ruined. That wood, hell, maybe it’s got enough magic on it that it can survive the worst. I think everything in there is toast.”

Grand Ole Opry president Steve Buchanan said while the rest of the stage was destroyed, the circle survived thanks to a few coats of varnish.

“It’s going to need a little attention by a skilled craftsman, but we expect that it will be ready to go back in place pretty soon,” he said of the circle, which was removed from the venue to be refurbished.

Photo: AP Photo

Last weekend’s heavy rainstorms and subsequent flooding damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and took the lives of more than 34 people in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. About 50 Nashville schools were damaged along with the Country Music Hall of Fame and LP Field.

In addition to removing the Grand Ole Opry’s circle and stage, all carpets have been taken out as well as drywall up to the level of the flooding, wood trim damaged by the water and electrical and technical fixtures.

Hours before the venue began to fill with water May 2, workers removed a number of original items from the Opry’s collection to store in a safe place. The memorabilia includes a steamboat whistle Opry founder George Hay blew to signal the beginning of Opry shows, the fiddle Opry patriarch Roy Acuff played during his first Opry performance and a pair of shoes Minnie Pearl wore for more than 50 years of performances.

Artifacts, costumes, instruments, and photo and video archives that were left in the venue during the flood and damaged by water were sent out to various companies across the U.S. for cleaning, repair or restoration.

Photo: AP Photo
Cleanup worker wears a protective suit as he walks by a statue of Bill Monroe in the lobby area of the Grand Ole Opry House.

There’s one item that was damaged by the flood that the Opry has no plans to repair – a stage door that was more than halfway submerged in water. After a photo of the stage door was posted online and in newspapers across the world, the door is now being treated so that the water mark will be preserved.

“The stage door will no doubt become a historic symbol representing this extraordinary event,” Buchanan said.

The Opry is expected to reopen sometime later this year. Shows have been relocated to local venues including Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium, the Ryman Auditorium an Nashville’s Two Rivers Baptist Church.

This is the second time the Opry has been forced to relocated shows because of the Cumberland River flooding. Back in 1975 the Cumberland River flooding relocated shows to Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium.

Click here for the AP story.

Click here for the Grand Ole Opry’s official website.