Imagine being mayor of one of America’s most beloved cities, Franklin, Tennessee. Mayor Ken Moore lives the dream of overseeing the many essential decisions facing our growing town. Because of his outstanding efforts and so many others, Franklin is one of the most beloved cities in the United States and voted the 2020 All-American City Award Winner!
As phenomenal as all of this is, what is even more fascinating is First Lady Linda Moore’s story of growing up in rural Franklin before all its recent awards and accolades. You’ll learn about Linda’s life growing up here in the 1950s and early 1960s, along with the mayor’s exceptional career. You will also read about the history of their incredible home at 230 3rd Avenue South. This wonderful first family and the original family who graced this delightful front door is an important story for us all.
Everything About This House Makes it Famous
One of the most exciting parts of this story is the man who originally owned it, Walter Aiken Roberts. Mr. Roberts is in fact, a legend in this town. He is affectionally known as “The Developer of Main Street Franklin”. With the stunning Watson House two doors down, and the gorgeous blue Fleming-Hyatt House down the street, the Roberts-Moore House is in good company on one of Franklin’s most famous streets. Directly across the street at 243 3rd Avenue South, lived cousin Fannie Park Ewing Small Gebhart, one of the last “Grand Dames” of Franklin according to Historian Rick Warwick.
In 2013, the home was selected as the Overall Winner for residential rehabilitation by the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. This great local organization works to save places that matter and educate the public about the importance of historic preservation.
We are going to share the story of Mayor Ken and Linda, their incredible 1898 Queen Anne Victorian home, and the important story of W.A. Roberts and the legacy he left as “The Developer of Main Street Franklin.” We have a lot of ground to cover, so buckle up!
Dr. Ken Moore is the Perfect Mayor for Franklin
Mayor Ken Moore was born in East Tennessee, but grew up in Donelson, a community east of Nashville. He graduated from Tennessee Tech and the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. After medical school, he served in the United States Army at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a general medical officer. He received his orthopedic training at the Campbell Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee.
Dr. Moore was an orthopedic surgeon and practiced in Columbia, Tennessee for 28 years. After Ken retired his medical practice, his interest in politics led him to run for alderman. Then a friend asked him to run for Board of Mayor and Alderman (BOMA), the board that enacts ordinances and serves on committees appointed by the Mayor. He won that election in 2007 and served as alderman at large. His work on the board has included Chair of the Finance Committee which led the effort to make Franklin a “Top 25 Sustainable City”.
After serving as an alderman and then vice-mayor, he assumed the role of mayor in 2011 after Mayor John Schroer resigned to be TDOT commissioner for Governor Bill Haslam. After a formal election that fall, Dr. Moore was overwhelming elected Mayor of Franklin with over 80% vote!
Mayor Moore is currently serving his third term and plans to run for a fourth term in 2023. He loves the people of Franklin, and they love him. Mayor Moore has been given many accolades including the “Leadership in Regional Thinking and Action Award” at the Power of Ten Summit. He helped bring the new Williamson County campus to Franklin for Columbia State Community College and currently serves as chairman of the Columbia State Foundation Board. Because of his support of the CSCC Franklin campus, you can see the Mayor Ken Moore, MD Oval (pictured above) when you enter the campus from the back of the administration building.
Dr. Moore has a passion for delivering healthcare to the underserved and is medical director for the Shalom Foundation which provides free surgeries to poor Guatemalan children. He helped open an out-patient surgery center in Guatemala City. Dr. Moore has spent time teaching orthopedic physician assistants in Bhutan, Southeast Asia, and in Ethiopia, teaching Ethiopian orthopedic residents.
First Lady Linda Moore and Her Story Book Childhood in Franklin
Linda Moore had an enchanting childhood growing up in Franklin. She and her two brothers were born in the Dan German Hospital at 137 4th Avenue South, and her mother was also born in Franklin and had many friends including Henry Cannon (Sarah Cannon/Minnie Pearl’s husband). Linda’s parents were Robert Hal Crowell and Naomi McMahon Crowell. She grew up in the 1950 red brick home, next to Wyatt Hall on Franklin Road. In fact, her grandfather, Marcus Dee McMahon, was a local blacksmith. His shop was located on 1st Avenue North, near Americana Taphouse.
Linda’s daddy owned an independent trucking company called Crowell Motor Lines for 30 years with Jim Crowell. Her Uncle P.B. Crowell also had a trucking business and was a race car driver. He was the 1968 Champion at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville. In fact, Darrell Waltrip credits P.B. for giving him his start in racing. In the late 1960s, Darrell moved to Franklin to drive P.B. and Charles Reed’s No. 48 Chevelle Late Model Sportsman at Fairgrounds Speedway. It was a good move, because Waltrip won 67 races there and was the 1970 and 1973 Champion!
Lady Gallant and Growing Up Across from Harlinsdale Farm
One of Linda’s fondest memories growing up in rural Franklin was riding her horse, Lady Gallant, all around town visiting friends. Her horse was named after Gallant Fox, the champion American Thoroughbred racehorse who was the second winner of the American Triple Crown.
Harlinsdale was across the street from the Crowell home on Franklin Road. So Linda would ride Lady to Harlinsdale and through various farms, making sure to follow their rules and close the gate. She loved regularly visiting Midnight Sun, the two-time Tennessee Walking Horse World Grand Champion in 1945 and 1946. Linda says his coat felt like velvet.
Willow Plunge, a swimming pool off Lewisburg Pike, was one of her favorite summer time destinations. Linda also loved going to The GilCo, Franklin’s first drive-in restaurant that teenagers would hang out and eat burgers and drink milkshakes. It was located where Zula & Mac are off 301 Lewisburg Pike.
We think it’s adorable that Linda was voted “Prettiest Girl” in her class, and graduated from Franklin High School in 1962. Her Uncle Herbert Bowen ran the Frankin Theatre for many years, and her Aunt Ruth McMahon Bowen ran the concession stand. It was a great deal for Linda growing up!
Linda is a real dog-lover and has had five German Shepherds over the years including her current dog, Mike, who gets daily 5-6 mile walks along the sidewalks of Franklin. They also have a Jack Russell Terrier mix appropriately named, Jack. Ken loves golf, so they are both physically active and enjoy the beauty of our city.
Moving Back to “God’s Country”
After Dr. Moore retired from medicine in 2004, Linda wanted to move back to her beloved Franklin. She told her husband, “Ken, I want to go home; I want to go back to God’s country.” Their first home was off Berry Circle, then they moved to the Brownstones off 2nd Avenue South. After ten years there, Linda’s mother passed away at 97. She realized that life was short, and she told Ken, “There is a house for sale on 3rd Avenue with a yard, I want another German Shepherd.”
Linda fell in love with the house as soon as she walked through the front door. A couple months later, they purchased the historic Roberts House on 230 3rd Avenue South, but stayed in the Brownstones six months until they finished renovating the home using Michael Lee’s team at Lee Restoration. They kept the front of the house pretty much the same, but gutted the kitchen and back bedroom areas to make them one level and flow better. It was important to the Moore’s to preserve the original fireplaces, wood floors, doors, and windows. They added a modern kitchen, and enclosed the screened patio to make it a comfortable sunroom twelve months out of the year.
With the renovation complete, they were able to get Mike, their loyal German Shepherd, soon after. The Moore’s quickly became friends with the Bodnar’s who at the time were their neighbors at the Watson House, but have since moved to the Harris-McEwen House we featured here.
Together, Ken and Linda have five children and six grandchildren. They are active members of Franklin First United Methodist Church.
Life in Franklin’s Pretty Queen Anne Victorian
Living on Franklin’s prestigious 3rd Avenue South has been a delight for Ken and Linda since they purchased the home in 2012. Ken can literally walk to work if he wants to since City Hall is just a couple blocks away. You can find Linda opening the gate through the charming white picket fence for her twice-daily strolls with Mike.
Historian Brian Laster says the home’s white picket fence, which had been rebuilt, is a beautiful example of a historically correct design for that era. Built in 1898 by Walter Aiken Roberts for his family, this home is one of the prettiest Queen Anne Victorians we have on display in Franklin.
The magnificent carriage house style garage was added by a previous owner and used as an office for Ken on the second floor.
All of the work on this house is exquisite and compliments this amazing historic home which features original hardwoods, fireplaces, windows, pocket doors, and our favorite feature of all, the charming front door with turn-style doorbell and letter drop. A fun bit of trivia is the fact that the front door was very important in the Victorian era, because it made a statement about the wealth of the occupants.
A Textbook Example of Historic Rehabilitation
“This is a textbook example of historic rehabilitation, because both the exterior and interior included perfectly balanced modern additions and a shining example of how to do historic preservation the right way,” said judge Dan Brown with the Tennessee Historical Commission when the home received its 2013 Heritage Foundation award.
The home has had several families live there over the years who added on to the original house. Ken and Linda gutted the addition and rearranged everything.
They expanded the tiny kitchen and added a den along with his and her bathrooms and closets to make a master suite for their bedroom.
The home had a screened patio with an impressive stone fireplace which they kept and replaced the screens with glass. There is a replica of Kelly Harwood’s exquisite painting of Midnight Sun over the fireplace. You can find the original at The Harpeth Hotel.
The exterior of the two-story home has a stunning L-shaped front porch with graceful columns and spindlework was typical of Queen Anne design. This architectural style was popular during the Victorian era in the United States from 1880-1910. It replaced the French-derived Second Empire style seen in the Watson House, also on 3rd Avenue South. See our feature on Ellen Smith’s magnificent home here.
The Roberts-Moore has an asymmetrical façade, grand pediments with dentil molding, unique ironwork along this complex roofline, and splendid brick chimney.
One of our favorite features is the leaded pane windows with colorful stained glass. Very few historic Franklin homes have this feature. Above the front door, there’s a pretty transom window of leaded glass as well.
All of these unique features and more are why we fell in love with the Roberts-Moore House, and we can’t thank Ken and Linda enough for this fabulous tour. Now, let’s meet the man who helped develop “America’s Favorite Street”!
Walter Aiken Roberts – The Developer of Franklin’s Main Street
You cannot tell the tale of 230 3rd Avenue South without sharing the story of Walter Aiken Roberts. He was the original owner of the home. Mr. Roberts was born June 4, 1865 in Pulaski (Giles County) Tennessee, just two months after the Civil War ended. His father had served as a doctor during the war, Dr. Joseph Coleman Roberts.
W.A. Roberts married Sallie McGavock Ewing Roberts at the Methodist Church in Franklin in 1889. Sallie’s sister was Susie Lee Ewing McGavock who was married to Winder McGavock. Winder’s parents were John and Carrie McGavock of Carnton fame. You can read our story about the wonderful Robert Hicks and his novel, Widow of the South here.
Located just before the home on Hwy. 96/Murfreesboro Road, you will notice a historical marker honoring Mr. Roberts.
The maker says, “Sallie was artistic and a romantic and Walter was an entrepreneur and visualized the “big picture” in both his plans and his actions.” What a couple!
Downtown Franklin’s Most Important First Family
On December 7 1898, Walter Roberts purchased the lot where the Roberts-Moore House resides. He and Sallie had three lovely daughters, Susie Lee Roberts Briggs, Ewing Roberts Green, and Sara McGavock Roberts Berry.
They all married prominent men in Franklin. Susie “Sa” married George Isaac Briggs, Jr. Their second daughter, Ewing, was married to John M. Green, who was in the real estate and insurance business. Sara married Tyler Berry, Jr. who was a highly successful Franklin lawyer with an office in the Hanner building for 30 years. In fact, Mr. Roberts invested heavily in real estate, but especially on Main Street.
Main Street USA in the Early 1900’s
The reason Mr. Roberts is known as “The Developer of Main Street” in downtown Franklin is because he owned several buildings on historic Highway 31W.
At one time, W.A. Roberts owned 345 Main (White’s Mercantile), 342 and 344 Main (“Hanner Building”), 334 Main (formerly Roberts’ Dry Goods, now The Grilled Cheeserie and Tin Cottage, 326 Main (“Roberts-McGavock” Building), now Imago Dei and the Spice Shop, 236 Public Square (“Roberts Building”), and 137 4th Ave S (former Kroger grocery store). In addition, he and his brother-in-law Alex Ewing co-owned the old Mays Hotel which was later the Post Hotel building, and other real estate throughout Franklin including three farms.
The Farmland that Preserved Franklin
Each of the three daughters was deeded one of the three farms Mr. Roberts owned. Susie got “Roberts Haven” located on Murfreesboro Road near Ralston Lane.
Ewing received “Ewingcrest” which was the original Ewing home Mr. Roberts bought back that was part of 640 acres granted to Captain Alexander Ewing after his service in the Revolutionary War.
Sara received “Rural Plains” on Lewisburg Pike. This is now Berry Farms, a panned community off I-65 and Goose Creek Bypass/Peytonsville Road. Tyler Berry’s shooting range was were Dave Ramsey’s headquarters, Ramsey Solutions, is now located. You can read wonderful the Berry Story here.
Mr. Roberts was in partnership with Winder McGavock, Jr., the son of Winder Sr. and Susie McGavock for several years, Roberts-McGavock. His vision for investing in real estate and small business preserved many of our downtown buildings and rural farmland, along with providing jobs for the local citizens.
Leonora Green, granddaughter of Ewing Roberts Green says, “We are so pleased to share our family story with a new audience that appreciates our long history here in Franklin. Our forbearers made important contributions that helped shape Franklin into the current city we all enjoy.”
Mr. Roberts’ wife Sallie passed away at age 58 in 1924. Two years later, he married Miss Elizabeth Hanner. She was known to be very frugal so they downsized, and lived in three different homes along Lewisburg Pike (#203 in the 1920s, #123 in the 1930’s, and #119 in the 1940’s).
Tyler Berry Jr. and Sara Roberts Berry Move Into Her Family Home
Mr. Walter’s daughters inherited the 3rd Avenue home, and Susie and Ewing transferred their interest to their younger sister Sara. Ewing’s family moved into a house at 227 4th Avenue South, directly behind the Roberts-Moore home. It is now the home of Ewing’s grandson, Walter R. Green, Jr. The Green’s had an real estate business for many years at 118 4th Avenue North, where Triple Crown Bakery is currently located.
Sara was married to Tyler Berry, Sr., and they had two children, Tyler Berry, Jr. and Sara Avalyn Berry Swain. Avalyn has a marvelous book, Growing Up in Franklin Tennessee, that recounts her childhood of living at 230 3rd Avenue South during the 1940s. Read Avalyn’s darling story here.
An honorable man his entire life, Walter A. Roberts volunteered at age 52 to serve in World War I in Europe with the YMCA in support of our troops in combat. After his return, he founded and became President of The Harpeth National Bank of Franklin and later Director of the Williamson County Banking & Trust Company. He was a trustee for Battleground Academy and for several years gave a “Roberts Watch” to the young man at BGA who was deemed “Best All-Around Student.” He also helped many boys and girls attend college.
Winstead Hill – Franklin’s First Preserved Battleground Site
Just prior to his death at 83 years of age in 1948, W.A. Roberts donated Winstead Hill, the command post for the Confederate States Army forces during the Battle of Franklin, to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. This was the first historical preservation action at the time by someone to help preserve the history of the Battle of Franklin.
Located on the corner of Columbia Pike and Mack Hatcher, Winstead Hill is just past Tractor Supply Company at 4023 Columbia Pike. There is a walking trail and historical markers, and from the top you can see where General John Bell Hood observed his advancing Confederate troops. It is now owned and maintained by the City of Franklin’s Parks Department, and an important place we recommend visiting to better understand our city’s significance in history.
Mr. Roberts passed away in 1948. He and his family are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Franklin.
May We Honor the Legacy and Vision of the Roberts-Moore Families
As we cherish the beauty of this fabulous Queen Anne Victorian, may we always honor the Roberts and Moore families. May they be remembered as important leaders and visionaries for our city. Walter Aiken Roberts believed and invested in Franklin’s Main Street and helped preserve Civil War history, along with leaving an incredible family legacy that is still making a difference in our city.
Mayor Ken Moore is leading a bold new vision for Franklin and responsibly planning out its future for the next generation. He and First Lady Linda make an extraordinary team!
We are so blessed to live in one of the greatest cities in America thanks to the families who have called the Roberts-Moore House their “home”.
Ken and Linda, you are yet another reason we call this “Lovely Franklin”.
Many thanks to Trenton Lee Photography for the stunning photos!
We are Lovely Franklin,