Throwback Thursday – The Oldest Park Pavilion in Bowling Green

Throwback Thursday this week starts with the oldest structure in the Bowling Green city parks system. Built in 1911, the pavilion at Reservoir Hill Park’s history captures moments tying together many stories this segment has shared in the past four years.

Designed by Vance Smith, the pavilion was constructed of local limestone carved from Bowling Green’s white stone quarries during their heyday over 120 years ago. We’ve told the story of white limestone being used in buildings at WKU, all over southern Kentucky, and as far away as Washington, D.C. 

Bowling Green’s mayor during the pavilion’s debut was Dr. Gilson E. Townsend, also a local pharmacist. Mayor Townsend served multiple terms, but not consecutively. According to the Bowling Green city website, the pharmacist served from 1898 to 1902 and again from 1909 to 1913. 

Mayor Townsend was serving the citizens of Bowling Green at the turn of the 20th century, when city parks were a new idea. Fountain Square had only been established a couple decades beforehand. Remember the families we’ve told stories of in segments past who used the new pavilion at Reservoir Park in the 1910s—the Underwoods, who owned what is now Kereiakes Park at Fairview; the Obenchains and Calverts, a couple of the most prominent business people and doctors of their day; and the Hobsons, who built Riverview at Hobson Grove and Walnut Lawn.

We hope viewers enjoy putting several pieces of the area’s historic puzzle together like this, to show the dynamic of how the area’s culture and growth relied on all these people, places, and things at once.