Gaylord Opryland hotel to re-open Nov. 15 in Nashville

The clean-up work is done at the Gaylord Opryland hotel, and construction crews have moved on to the rebuilding and renovating.

Hotel officials say Nashville‘s largest hotel will re-open on Nov. 15, six months after the Cumberland River overflowed its banks and flooded the hotel’s common areas.

The photo below, which was released by the Gaylord Opryland, shows that the water also rose within a foot or so of the ceiling in some guestrooms in the hotel’s Magnolia area.

The Magnolia area rooms are getting a complete renovation (as shown in the rendering at right), with an updated, lighter look than they had before.

The Gaylord Opryland hotel is also getting a new look in the Cascades area lobby and the rotating Cascades Terrace bar, as well as in several of the hotel’s restaurants. Two new restaurants — offering Mexican and Italian cuisine — are being added during the rebuilding.

The adjacent Grand Ole Opry House, which was also flooded, is on track to reopen Oct. 1, according to Gaylord officials. (The Grand Ole Opry shows are still being performed at other Nashville venues.)

Gaylord’s price tag for all of this clean-up and renovation is estimated to top $215 million.

Grand Ole Opry’s famed circle survives Nashville flooding

For almost seven decades, country music legends have stood on a single piece of oak floor to perform in the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. The “Opry Circle” was just the center part of the stage at the Ryman Auditorium when the legendary show moved there in 1943.

When the current Grand Ole Opry House was finished in 1974, a 6-foot circle was cut from the oak stage floor and installed center stage in the new auditorium.

Last week, the circle and the rest of the Opry stage was submerged under two feet of water when the Cumberland River overflowed its banks. But this week, the news is good: The rest of the stage will be replaced, but the Opry Circle can be salvaged.

Yes, it’s just a circle of wood, but to country music fans, it is sacred ground.

Late legends Hank Williams and Johnny Cash have sung in the circle. Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Porter Wagoner and hundreds of others have stood in the same spot when they took the Opry stage.

As our friends at the Boot note, even Elvis Presley sang on this piece of flooring early in his career, during his only Grand Ole Opry appearance in 1954.

(Legend has it that Elvis was practically booed off the stage during his performance, leading Opry officials to suggest he go back to driving a truck.)

%Gallery-92866%I grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio on Saturdays, and then, when cable finally came to my tiny hometown, watching it on TV. I followed all the country music artist’s careers, and I even entertained childhood dreams of singing on the Opry stage myself one day.

As most fans do, I have made a couple of pilgrimages to the Grand Ole Opry myself through the years. Last fall, I finally got a chance to take the backstage tour, and I stood in that Opry Circle for the first time as an adult.

I can’t describe the feeling, except to say that I was moved to tears standing in that sacred spot. Of course I had not idea at the time that the Opry House would be flooded — and that circle would be in jeopardy — in just a few months’ time.

“That circle is the most magical thing when you’re a performer,” says Brad Paisley, “to stand there and get to sing on those same boards that probably still contain dust from Hank Williams’ boots.”

Despite the flood, the Opry will go on, as it has every Saturday night since 1925. Most of the upcoming performances have been moved to the Ryman Auditorium while crews try to remove the muck covering the Opry House and assess the damage.

The show would have gone on without that precious circle.

But I’m glad it doesn’t have to.

Nashville landmarks remain closed after historic flooding

After a weekend of torrential rains and flooding, sunshine is predicted in Nashville, Tenn., today. Officials at many of the city’s landmark spots for visitors will be assessing the damage and starting the clean-up process.

Here’s a look at what’s open, what isn’t and what won’t be for some time:

The Gaylord Opryland Resort is closed. At last report, many of the hotel’s common areas were flooded with up to 10 feet of water. The resort’s 2,800-plus hotel rooms have not been damaged, but the company says it will take months to clean up and re-open for business. Reservations for the Gaylord Opryland have been suspended, and Gaylord officials said they are seeking alternatives for the conventions scheduled at the complex in the coming weeks. The Gaylord contained 12 percent of the city’s hotel rooms, and The Tennessean reports today that some larger conventions are being directed to Gaylord properties in other cities.

Next door, the Grand Ole Opry House was also damaged in the flooding. Officials have not released details on the extent of the damage. Tonight’s Grand Ole Opry performance has been moved to Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. Weekend Opry performances have been moved to the Ryman Auditorium. Other Grand Ole Opry attractions, including backstage tours and the Grand Ole Opry Museum, have been suspended.The historic Ryman Auditorium downtown has not been damaged and was never threatened by the flood waters. The Ryman is the former, longtime home of the Grand Ole Opry. It’s likely that many Opry performances will be relocated to the Ryman as long as the Grand Ole Opry House remains closed.

Mega-mall Opry Mills is closed because of the flooding and power outages. Mall officials have not released damage information, but the mall is adjacent to the flooded Gaylord Opryland Resort and Grand Ole Opry House. Nashville news stations are showing helicopter video of flood waters surrounding the mall and parking areas.

The basement of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is flooded. Fortunately, none of the museum’s collections are housed in the basement, so the exhibits have not been affected. Museum officials say they expect to re-open right away.

The honky-tonks and shops in the popular LoBro area (along Lower Broadway and Second Avenue) are a mixed bag. Some, including larger venues the Hard Rock Cafe and Wildhorse Saloon, are closed because of basement flooding, but other business remain open. The streets and sidewalks are not flooded in this area.

Schermerhorn Symphony Center will be closed for about a month, officials told The Tennessean. The concert hall’s basement has flooded, and essential equipment, including two Steinway grand pianos, has been lost. A note on the Nashville Symphony’s Web site informs visitors that “the status of all upcoming events remains uncertain.”

LP Field
, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, is underwater. There’s no word on whether the stadium’s locker rooms, offices and other facilities have been damaged.

Nashville Predators hockey venue Bridgestone Arena is also flooded. The NHL team says there has been extensive damage to locker rooms, TV production facilities and other venues on the arena’s lower levels.

The Hampton Inn and Suites Nashville – Downtown is completely closed because of flooding. The hotel across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame has relocated its guests to other Nashville hotels.

Flooding has not affected air travel in and out of Nashville International Airport. It remains completely open.

But getting to and from the airport could be a different story. Dozens of road closures dot the Nashville metro area. The metro Nashville government is continually updating a Nashville road closure map online.