Riverview at Hobson Grove
CSA Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner
undated photo of Atwood Hobson some years following the Civil War
Close in shot of Riverview
undated portrait of Juliet Hobson
One of the bedrooms in Riverview
Riverview and gardens in Hobson Grove
Backstory and Context
Riverview at Hobson Grove was built as the home of Atwood Gaines Hobson and his wife Juliet "Julia" van Meter Hobson on a small promontory and was named because of its proximity to the Barren River. Construction on the house started in the 1850s, but was halted due to the outbreak of the Civil War.
Because Atwood Hobson was a staunch Union supporter and his eldest son, William, had been made a Colonel in the Union Army, the family was concerned about this property. The commanding officer of the Confederate troops, Simon Bolivar Buckner, who had fought with Atwood's brother, Edward, in the Mexican–American War, agreed to spare the partially built house. His troops built a temporary roof over the basement to use as a munitions magazine during the winter of 1861-1862, when Bowling Green was the Confederate capital of Kentucky.
Riverview was finally completed in 1872. Riverview is a classic example of Italianate architecture with arched windows, deep eaves with ornamental brackets, and a cupola. The two parlors have painted ceilings. Atwood and Juliet Hobson incorporated some unusually unique ideas for their era into this home. A copper-lined wooden collection tank in the attic, which was connected to the outside guttering, provided running water for the water closet on the second floor. Another innovation beneath the cupola is a hole in the ceiling, sometimes called an oculus, and is part of the ventilation system of the house. When the eight windows in the observatory are open and the windows and doors are open on the floors below, a vacuum is created, pulling the hot air up and out of the house, keeping the air continuously circulating. It works much as an attic fan would work in a home today.
The Hobson family and their descendants lived in the house until 1952. After a string of various successive tenants and being damaged by fire, the structure was abandoned and condemned in 1965. The city of Bowling Green purchased the property with the intent of demolishing the house and building a golf course. The house was saved when a non-profit organization, the Hobson House Association, was formed the next year, restoring the dwelling in Victorian style. The proposed golf course was built nearby and can be viewed from the hill upon which Riverview sits.
Riverview, including the house, grounds and a museum, opened to the public for tours in 1972. Riverview is now owned and maintained by the City of Bowling Green as part of Hobson Grove Park. The non-profit organization of volunteers, the Friends of Riverview, is dedicated to preserving Riverview's historical and architectural heritage. Riverview hosts various events throughout the year including teas, luncheons, an Easter Egg Hunt, Victorian Garden and Antique Festival, Tea with Mrs. Claus, Candlelight Tours and other themed presentations and events.
Riverview is listed on numerous Civil War driving tours and Heritage Trails in Kentucky.