Colonel Isaac Croom, a planter and state legislator originally from Lenoir County, North Carolina, built Magnolia Grove around 1840. He and his wife, Sarah Pearson Croom, moved to Greensboro in the late 1830s. The Crooms built the Greek Revival structure as a town house, not a plantation house, on a 20-acre parcel of land. Col. Croom owned plantation land in what is now south Hale and north Marengo Counties, plus land southwest of Magnolia Grove.
Col. Croom died in 1863. His widow continued to live at Magnolia Grove until her death in 1878. As part of the estate settlement, Mrs. Croom’s niece, Sallie Pearson Hobson, purchased the house in 1879. In 1867, Sallie Pearson married James Hobson of Davie County, North Carolina. They had seven children. Their second child, Richmond Pearson Hobson, became a hero of the Spanish-American War. Hobson attempted to block Santiago Harbor, Cuba, by purposefully sinking the USS Merrimac at the entrance. Although the effort was unsuccessful, Hobson was recognized as a national hero after his release by the Spanish. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1933. Hobson resigned from active duty in 1903 and entered politics. He served as a U.S. Representative from 1906-1914. From 1914 until his death in 1937, he staunchly supported Prohibition and the banning of drugs and alcohol. A prominent author, Hobson wrote books on naval construction, naval supremacy, prohibition, and diplomacy. He traveled throughout the U.S. talking on these subjects, and lecturing on behalf of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League. Mementos from his career are housed at Magnolia Grove.
Hobson’s family deeded the house to the State of Alabama in 1943 as a memorial. The Alabama Historical Commission acquired the site in 1980.
An excellent example of Greek Revival architecture, Magnolia Grove is known for its stateliness and simplicity. Located at the end of Main Street, the house is set in a grove of large magnolia trees. The main block of the house is rectangular and constructed of red handmade brick laid in common bond. The facade is plastered and painted white. Six doric columns support the unadorned pediment. Across the rear of the house is a two-story veranda supported by small fluted iron columns that rest on brick and concrete piers. A wide central hall divides the interior. A curving stair is a main feature; a chandelier hangs from a large plaster medallion of acanthus leaf design. To the right of the hall are the living room (now museum room) and a small study. Across the hall to the left are the front parlor and dining room. A similar floor plan exists for the upper story. In the late 1800s, two wings were added to the rear of the house. The original kitchen house stands a few feet behind the mansion. It is constructed of brick and consists of a main floor, reached by the stairway, and a half-raised basement. On the south side, the gable roof overhangs to form a veranda which is supported by four columns. Due to its architectural and historical significance, Magnolia Grove was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1973.
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