Local Lore: 2921 Broadway Avenue ("La Reve")

Broadway was a residential street before it developed as a state highway commercial street as the popularity of the automobile increased during the early 20th century.

2921 Broadway, originally 944 and, later, 2121 N. Broadway and called La Reve, was built in a prominent residential section along Broadway around 1911. The Lynn Hayes family were the first residents. Hayes was a building contractor and served as Knox County Trustee from 1916-1920. He lived in the home with his wife, Elizabeth and their three children. His son, Harold, would go on to became a prominent local real estate figure.

The architect of the house was Lynn Haye's older brother, Charles A. Hayes. Charles had apprenticed with George F. Barber. Barber was a noted Knoxville architect known for his mail-order house business nationally and for his turn-of-the-century homes in Park City locally. Hayes moved to and from Knoxville throughout his career and worked out of an office on Market Square during the time he designed La Reve.


La Reve was built during a time when transportation was evolving, becoming automobile oriented with the potential of reasonable travel distance increasing. It was also a time when communication evolved.: there were 1400 telephone subscribers in Knoxville  in 1900 and 7,100 by 1920. The Hayes home on Broadway had a telephone, and interestingly, two phone numbers were listed, "old 124" and "new 74."  Between 1894 and 1928, many citizens who wanted to talk to as many people as possible by telephone, had two telephone instruments. The predicament was necessitated by the competition between two separate telephone systems: the East Tennessee Telephone Company and the People's Telephone Company.

Source: "Knoxville: A Postcard Memoir 1900-1930, Elena Irish Zimmerman

2921 Broadway became home to Charlton A. Karns in the 1920's. He lived there with his wife Teenie, and  they had no children. Karns was a prominent businessman of many endeavors: banking, dairy farming, ice cream manufacturing, and real estate among them. He also owned the Watauga Hotel. His office was at 108 Depot Street and he served for a year as Knoxville City Manager and was twice elected to City Council.  Karns sister was Mrs. Walter J. Morris, Belle Morris, for which Belle Morris School is named.

Karns was born on a 200 acre dairy farm in the current Lincoln Park neighborhood area, west of N. Broadway, just before the Civil War. The old Karns home, at Broadway and Washington Pike was razed in 1944.

Karns enjoyed flower gardening in large beds at La Reve. He often had garden soil on his shoes and was known to bring bouquets. He was also known to distribute candy and story books to children.

During the late 1930's and early 1940's the home served as the Minton Tourist Home (a hotel) and in the 1950's, the home became the office of Howard & Howard Plumbing & Heating Company and home to the Howard family. oward was a City Council Member and the business remained for more than 25 years at the location. The Howard family currently owns the property.

The home is currently in danger of being demolished in order to build a retail store.