Local Lore: 1423 Branson Avenue

Local artist, Lloyd Branson, ationally known, especially for his portraits of Southern politicians and depictions of East Tennessee history, made his home in Knoxville, at 1423 Branson Avenue, in 1922, until he died suddenly in 1925.

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Branson, born in 1853 in Union County, attended the National Academy of Design in New York in the 1870's. Branson's art work incorporated elements of impressionism and modernism. His work was presented at such noteworthy events as the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the 1900 World's Fair in Paris, and the 1895 Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. His work Hauling Marble received a gold medal at the Knoxville Appalachian Exposition at Chilhowee Park in 1910. After returning to Knoxville, Branson's artistic career included partnership in a portrait studio on Gay Street.

.His relationships with other artists included Catherine Wiley, the Impressionist artist born in Coal Creek, Tennessee in 1879; Beauford Delaney, the early twentieth Modernist artist born in Knoxville in 1901; and his more contemporary Knoxville artist, Adelia Armstrong Lutz. 

When the Branson house was built, development in the vicinity, including nearby development along Broadway, was mostly residential. While homes were located along Chickamauga and Hiawassee avenues, north of Branson Avenue, the bulk of the initial development of Fairmont and Emoriland boulevards as residential streets was still a year away.

The neighborhood around the Branson house, known as Edgewood, was established by the time the Branson house was built. Branson Avenue had been known as Rhode Island Avenue before the Branson house and  contemporary houses around it on the street were built. Rhode Island Avenue had only a few houses on it until the 1920's. Other streets in the neighborhood included Edgewood Avenue, Copeland Avenue, Adair Avenue, and Fairview Avenue.

Branson's early neighbors on Branson Avenue included railyard workers, a warehouseman, a pipe company employee, a contractor, a grocer, and Branson's brother, Oliver, a bookeeper, 

Knox Heritage is now renovating the Branson house, preserving this piece of property and Knoxville history, and honoring an interesting connection to the house. Knox Heritage is located in Westwood, the historic Kingston Pike home of Branson's student, Adelia Armstrong Lutz.