Inside Bob Noble's Rivercliff Estate
Bob Noble's private Rivercliff property offers a secluded space for his invitees, but he's looking to a future when the Finley River views are open to the public.
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Since Rivercliff is in use year-round, Noble wanted the landscaping to be easily maintained and green all year. There are a lot of English boxwood plants on the property, many that started as seedlings in the greenhouse. The low-maintenance plant is hearty and fits the Ozark climate well, and the full-time caretaker, Kirk Pey, makes sure the property always looks lush.
There are a lot of recognizable projects in Springfield tied to Bob Noble: Noble Communications, The Food Channel, The World’s Largest Fork. But what most of the public doesn’t know about is his Rivercliff estate. Located 10 minutes south of Springfield overlooking the Finley River in Ozark, Rivercliff is an expansive 50-acre property used for corporate retreats, custom dinners and brainstorming sessions.
Noble bought the property in 1992 when it was only 10 acres. At the time, the house on the property, an older home in need of updating and refreshing, was just over 3,000 square feet. Noble and his wife, Carol, got to work reconditioning and refurbishing every room and planning additions to fit their needs. He expanded the kitchen for The Food Channel video productions and built a 600-square-foot front room to add more space for lounging and entertaining.
Then the work moved to the outside. Noble added landscaping, a park and a swinging bridge. The most recent additions include bee hives to produce honey and a shooting range. There is a caretaker’s home on the property that houses the only full-time resident. No one lives in the main house, but Noble frequently takes clients and colleagues there to reboot.
Now, he’s looking at what the next chapter holds for Rivercliff. It could be developed into a restaurant or an event venue. But ultimately, he wants to transform it from a private property to a publicly available space. “That would be my ultimate giving back play,” he says.
View of the Finley River
Noble is very proud of the scene that his property offers and calls it “the most beautiful view in the Ozarks.” Adding to the view is one of his statues that he collected while traveling.
The patio is used for entertaining during both formal and low-formal occasions. The figurative sculpture—which Noble found in SoHo—is not unexpected in a family of figurative artists. The brick motif of the patio is carried throughout the house and the driveway, and the marble surrounding the bricks came from Carthage Stoneworks.
Noble added this bridge to connect the house to the park. It spans over a valley that has a creek running through it surrounded by hearty palms.
The formal entrance of the house is an atrium that showcase’s some of the home’s taxidermy. The large front doors and staircase came from a church in St. Louis.
When planning to add this front room, Noble knew he needed the style to match that of the existing house. He created a saw mill on the property and used beams from an 1880s building in Joplin to replicate the original architecture. After it was built, Noble set out to fill it with art. The main focal point in the dining room and the living room are the harlequin series his son Brad, an international artist, did for Teatro, an Italian restaurant once in Chesterfield Village. The attention to detail and artistic features make Rivercliff a truly one-of-a-kind property, one that Noble says “would take an act of Congress to replicate.”
When adding on the front room, Noble left the original entry way’s brick steps in tact. The round steps are mirrored by the round fireplace at the other end of the room. A favorite find of Noble’s is the limestone fireplace, circa 1600, which came from an old mansion in Manhattan.
The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the house, and Noble made sure it was outfitted to handle commercial work. He added 12 feet in the renovations and created what he calls the “perfect culinary studio” with plenty of prep space, three ovens—including one from the Italian brand Molteni—a custom designed hood, and two refrigerators. He uses the equipment to create seasonal menus and lavishly entertain brands and clients.
Formal dining room
The large table and antique Queen Anne chairs came from the former Marshall Field’s store in Chicago, “when they had the best antique furniture floor in the country,” Noble says. He says the set is from the 18th century and that “Ben Franklin could have sat in one of these.” Under the table sits one of the rugs that Noble has picked up on his travels. “I collect both wall and floor art,” he says.
Many of the home’s windows are stained glass, all part of the building before Noble bought it. The one pictured below includes a family crest of the original owner, a tribute to the property’s history.
Noble likes to call the sunroom off the kitchen the “perfect human birdhouse.” This is because the room hangs out over the bluff and provides views of the Finley River. Visitors can spend their mornings reading and sipping coffee sitting in the steel chairs from Gump’s in San Francisco.
The majority of the house is built on a bluff, but the back balcony lets you walk out and feel like you’re hanging above the bluff. You can sit on the deck and take in the Finley River.
Inside the casual entrance to Rivercliff, which is around the corner from the front entrance, is a bar. “This is where we greet people,” Noble says.
The main floor bathroom is a trip back in time with a vintage flush toilet. The copper tub retains heat and makes a sauna-like experience for soakers.