Leap Day history: Things that happened in Nashville on Feb. 29

What were Nashvillians doing on Leap Days in 1928, 1952, and 1964? We dug through the archives to find out.

A black and white photo taken in March 1952 of the Tennessee Theater's two-level auditorium with stadium seating, projections on the walls, and a stage with a closed curtain.

The Tennessee Theater’s interior photographed a couple weeks after its opening. | Photo via Metro Nashville Archives, Foster & Creighton General Contractors Collection

It’s another leap year, Nashville. Every four years, we add an extra day, February 29, to our calendars to stay in sync with Earth’s revolutions around the sun. For those who think it’s just a bonus day, a dive into Nashville historical events and headlines tell a different story.

Join us as we journey back in time with The Tennessean’s archive, revisiting notable Leap Days in Music City.

Feb. 29, 1928: Marriages and radio waves

  • Do we hear wedding bells? The newspaper reported that between 1897 and 1927, Davidson County issued ~100 more marriage licenses, or “passports to bliss,” during leap years compared to non-leap years.
  • Turn the radio dial to WSM and you would hear a farm and home program at 11:45 a.m., followed by a lunch time concert, businesses news at 5:30 p.m., and musical variety radio programs to close out the evening.

Feb. 29, 1952: Theater opening and farmers market news

  • The 2,000-seat Tennessee Theater opened the night before with Gordon MacRae, Phyllis Kirk, and other movie stars in attendance. The Art Deco theater at 527 Church St. was demolished in the 1980s.
  • Davidson County purchased the first tract of land for the new $1 million farmers market, which would later open in 1955. The open air market was renovated in 1995, becoming the Nashville Farmers Market we know today.
A photo taken in the mid-1950 of a woman sitting at a farmers market, surrounded by vegetables and meats.

The Farmers Market, located between Jefferson and Jackson Streets and 6th and 8th Avenues North, replaced the Public Square market. | Photo via Metro Nashville Archives

Feb. 29, 1964: Snow and Beatlemania

  • Nashville woke up to 4-6 inches of snow the day before, making it Leap Day and a snow day.
  • The Tennessean’s Youth Speaks Out columnist asked, “What is this thing called Beatlemania?” As we know, the Beatles touched down in the US three weeks earlier, provoking the “screams and feverish adoration of young people.”
  • Nashvillians enjoyed steak nights (75 cents) at Belle Meade Buffet, Maine lobster ($3.95) at Biltmore Restaurant, and barbecue dinners ($1) at the 24-hour Charlie Nickens restaurant, according to advertisements.
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