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 scared 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 to funds. It was not until May 20, 1931, that the Parthenon as it stands today was opened to the public.
Hart, Freeland and Roberts, with William B. Dinsmoor consulting, served as architects George J. Zolnay, Leopold Scholz and Belle Linney Scholz, sculptors. Foster and Creighton were general contractors, others who contributed to the work included John J. Early Company, General Bronze Corporation, John Bouchard and Sons, Herbrice and Lawrence H.E. Parmer, J.J. Hutchinson and Son, J.O. Kirkpatrick, Charles A. Howell Art Mosaic and Tile Company and A. T. Kanaday.
Board of Park Commissioners
Robert M. Dudley
Lee J. Loventhal
Robert T. Creighton
Charles M. McCabe