Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Parthenon And Centennial Park In Nashville.

After a leisurely tour of the World Market, we followed the Zzzadigs to Centennial Park in Nashville. This 132-acre park was originally farmland belonging to Anne Robertson Johnson Cockrill, the first teacher in Tennessee and the sister of General James Robertson, a founder of Nashville. Cockrill and her family came from Wake County, NC, to Nashville in the Donelson Flotilla. John Donelson, the father of Rachel Jackson (Andrew Jackson's wife), was a land speculator and early settler of Middle Tennessee. He was leading his group of settlers to the Cumberland River region when the river iced over and they were forced to stay at Fort Watauga for the winter. While the men were out hunting, Indians attacked the Fort and the wounded Cockrill led the women in a bucket brigade of boiling wash water to fend off the Chickamauguan Indians who were attempting to set fire to the fort. The Indians were eventually driven off and the fort and families were saved. In 1780, Donelson's flotilla of thirty or so canoes, flat boats, and dugouts, traversing the Holston, Tennessee, Ohio, and Cumberland Rivers, reached the end of their arduous 1000-mile journey at Big Salt Lick (now Nashville). For her bravery, Cockrill was given a land grant for the land which was turned into the state fairgrounds after the Civil War. The site served as a racetrack from 1884 to 1885 and was known as West Side Park. In 1897, the land was the site of the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition and was renamed Centennial Park. When the exposition ended, the buildings and exhibits were dismantled (with the exception of a full-scale model of the Parthenon), leaving in its place a landscaped area with a small artificial lake named Lake Watauga after the western region in North Carolina where many of Nashville's settlers moved from. The replica of the Parthenon, built out of plaster, was originally intended to be a temporary exhibit and it was scheduled for demolition on several occasions. However, Nashvillians had come to view the Parthenon as the "Athens of the South," and had rallied to save it. In the twenties, it was agreed to replace the temporary plaster building with a permanent concrete and steel replacement which remains today. So much for the history. Let's look at pictures.
A fisherman enjoys the quite solitude of the lake.
Here's our merry little band.
I guess the park serves as home to the homeless.
The gardens are lovely with immaculately manicured beds.
Diva in the making.
Red coleus with yellow marigolds.
Huge elephant ears and what looks like blue salvia at the bottom.
Poor kid. Look at all the outfits she's got to endure. All she wanted to do was eat grass. And here's the Parthenon:
The Parthenon is the centerpiece of Centennial Park. It is a full-scale replica of the original Athenian Parthenon, considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. Unfortunately this Sunday, the Parthenon was closed and I was unable to shoot pictures of the re-creation of the 42-foot statue of Athena, the focus of this Parthenon, just as it was in the Athenian Parthenon. Both the Parthenon and the statue of Athena are full-scale replicas of the Grecian originals. Today, the Parthenon also serves as an art museum for the city of Nashville. The focus of the Parthenon's permanent collection is a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists. Additional gallery spaces provide a venue for a variety of temporary exhibits and shows.
Athena Parthenos was the title of the Greek goddess Athena made by Phidias and housed in the Parthenon in Athens.

The ancient historian Pausanias gave a description of the statue:

...The statue itself is made of ivory silver and gold. On the middle of her helmet is placed a likeness of the Sphinx... and on either side of the helmet are griffins in relief. ... The statue of Athena is upright, with a tunic reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a statue of Victory about four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear; at her feet lies a shield and near the spear is a serpent. This serpent would be Erichthonius. On the pedestal is the birth of Pandora in relief.
In 1982, local Nashville sculptor, Alan LeQuire, won the commission to recreate the lost Athena Parthenos by 5th century Greek scuptor, Pheidias. After 8 years in the making, LeQuire's Athena was unveiled in 1990. It is the largest indoor sculpture in the Western Hemisphere.
The world's only replica of the Parthenon, epitome of Greek culture, was the central building at Tennessee's Centennial Exposition, May 1 thru October 31, 1897. The original temple, dedicated to Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, occupied the most sacred area in ancient Greece, the crest of the Acropolis, a hill overlooking Athens. Major Eugene C. Lewis, director of the Centennial, believed that a reproduction of the Greek masterwork to serve as a gallery of fine arts would inspire a love of beauty and a spirit of excellence. Colonel William C. Smith served as architect and George J. Zolnay, sculptor. Contractor for the building was Edward Laurent with Foster and Creighton contracting for the foundation. The reception of the Centennial - it was the first exposition in the nation to be both an artistic and financial success - and public response to the Parthenon indicated that although it was made of temporary materials, it should be reconstructed on a permanent basis. Construction was started in 1921, the exterior completed in 1925, but due to the lack of funds, it was not until May 20, 1931, that the Parthenon as it stands today was opened to the public.
Enjoy the photographs.


Anonymous said...

Rosie, thanks so much for taking us along with you on this trip. You have provided some really interesting info on each location and some wonderful photos! Can't wait to visit some of these places myself. Enjoy the remainder of your journey!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Thanks Anony. Please stay tuned for lots more. We have only just begun.


PS FYI, Today we're leaving Kansas City, MO for Nebraska. Yes, I am on a blog lag. I'll be playing catch up throughout Nebraska.

dh said...

whoa I like the Parthenon pics!

Marilyn said...

Very interesting. Too bad it was closed the day you were there.