I went to Nashville for the weekend back in October with my friend and her mom as a part of her birthday trip. We decided to do our duties as tourists and explored the Parthenon on Saturday. As we walked through the halls filled with history around the Parthenon’s construction and Nashville as whole,
I was especially intrigued by the small dedication on the Woman’s Building. I decided to do some research so you too can know more!
HISTORY OF THE PARTHENON
The Woman’s Building was a part of Tennessee’s grand centennial celebration of statehood in 1897. The event was inspired by Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition and around 100 buildings were built to create a legendary experience. Although the Woman’s Building is no longer standing, it still had a great influence in its time. Sara Ward Conley, an artist recently back in her hometown from studying in Paris and Rome, was chosen as the designated architect of the building.
The barn design strayed from the majority of the Exposition’s buildings and the Woman’s Building was great with its two stories, eight massive columns, marble steps, and Grecian architecture. On top of the center was the observatory that included a restaurant.
Inspired by Andrew Jackson’s home, it became one of the first completed for the fair. Conley also assisted in picking art for the displays at the Exposition, and these projects became the last majors of her career before she fell ill. Conley was able to capture not only the elegance but also the importance of women through this grand building.
Mrs. Thomas, wife of the president of the Exposition, also made a substantial impact on the Woman’s Building. Thomas collected around 4000 books all written by women to fill one of the libraries within. One of the libraries was even pink themed with a pink velvet carpet designated to hold portrait statues. The monumental creation became a house to displays of domestic arts, women’s inventions in the Patent Room, selling of women’s articles, and much more.
The Progressive Era had made its way to the United States and Tennessee’s Exposition made sure to tribute all the women who helped this influence. The building hosted women such as Jane Addams for lectures to inspire millions coming to visit the Fair to help the feminist movement. Now, only a small photo remains in the archives of the Parthenon, but the impact of Nashville’s dedication to the growing feminists remains.
I hope you learned something and can see how important it is to give tributes to our history! It is definitely not perfect, but finding an event like this can make us realize how much we have grown. Let’s continue the legacy!
For more articles on feminist icons and women’s empowerment, click here.