“In 2020, we were reminded that God performs miracles, and we go forward with hope in response. Staff, volunteers, generous donors, and prayers have sustained us through the COVID-19 tidal wave. The pandemic presented reduced business and great challenges. At the same time, it created opportunities to improve and simplify our operations to grow our mission. So as the pandemic eases its impact on conferencing in 2021, we offer a better Green Lake Conference Center that will train and nurture Christian leaders one closer walk with God at a time, bringing peace, hope, and healing to our hurting world.”
–Ben Mott, President & CEO Green Lake Conference Center
Jessie Lawson of Chicago weathered a storm of her own in the summer of 1888 while boating on Green Lake. Shelter was taken on Lone Tree Point, and she decided to purchase that spot as a refuge from the pressures and harried life of the city. She and her husband, Victor, developed a farm with European-inspired architecture, much of which remains today. In the 1920s, the H.O. Stone Development Company of Chicago turned the farm into a luxurious country club, adding Lawsonia Links Golf Course. In 1943, Northern Baptists purchased the property for training and conferences.
Today, 60,000 square feet of meeting space and accommodations serve 1,000 in hotel rooms, suites, lakefront and forest houses, dorms, cabins, and campsites. In addition to hosting retreats, workshops, and conferences, we offer programs for adults, youth, families, and ministry leaders.
One of our most iconic buildings is Roger Williams Inn. Originally named Lawsonia Country Club Hotel, it was constructed by the H.O. Stone Development Company in 1930. Its prominent location on the lake makes it a landmark in the community.
The five-story hotel has lake views on three sides, and the exterior is faced with brick painted white with green trim. Almost all its 81 guest rooms face the lake, and it has a gorgeous lobby. The jewel of their development, the building served as both hotel and clubhouse for the 18-hole Lawsonia Links Golf Course.
The Northern Baptists renamed the hotel Roger Williams Inn after the English Protestant theologian (c. 1603–1683), who started the first Baptist church in America: First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island. The hotel continued to be a favorite place to stay for decades. Memories abound of hymn sings in the lobby, swimming in the outdoor pool and off the island, boat rides on the Captain Bickel, and family-style dinners in the Crystal Dining Room. Baptist leaders, such as J.L. Kraft (founder of Kraft Foods), gathered at the Inn. It was the social center and focal point of many pictures and postcards.
Renovations on the Inn continue. The website ( rogerwilliamsinn.com ) features a video about the vision for a rejuvenated Inn as well as history, old photos, and restoration plans. Renovations ensure that this classic hotel will continue to be a wonderful place to renew guests for decades to come!
For more information about GLCC, go to glcc.org .
Jean Cornelius is the communications director at Green Lake Conference Center.