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Lakeside Heritage Trail
24. Wesley Lodge
510 Central Avenue
Wesley Lodge 1961
Wesley Lodge 2005
Construction of Wesley Lodge was approved by the Lakeside Association Board of Trustees in fall 1960 to replace Epworth Lodge, which was built in 1919 as the headquarters and dining hall for Epworth League events.
By 1959, the Ottawa County Health Department was pressuring Lakeside to do something urgently as the Epworth Lodge kitchen had fallen below the county’s health standards. Lakeside was granted permission for one more year of food service at the old Lodge. The original 1960 plan was to demolish Epworth Lodge, now home of the Rhein Center for the Living Arts one block south, and build a new youth dining facility on the Epworth site.
Fortunately, the architects recommended leaving Epworth Lodge in place for other uses and relocating construction of the new dining hall, to be called Wesley Lodge, to a vacant site northwest of South Auditorium. Wesley Lodge was to become the focal point of an area called the “Youth Campus” which would include Wo-Ho-Mis, South Auditorium and the renovated Epworth Lodge.
Funds were available from the Lakeside Crusade, a fundraising campaign among churches of the Ohio Conferences of the Methodist Church for the benefit of Lakeside. The crusade enabled the Lakeside Association to build Wesley Lodge debt-free and in time for the 1961 Methodist Youth Fellowship Institutes that attracted hundreds of senior high school students throughout the summer. The total project budget was $111,415. The new 9,000 square foot building design had concrete block walls with native stone facing, large glass panel windows, and a stone fireplace. The Lodge would seat 500 for meals in two dining rooms with a modern kitchen. Construction was completed on budget as reported at the dedication on June 25, 1961.
Jane Knight, who managed and cooked food for decades in the small Epworth Lodge kitchen, continued her role as dining room manager for the first summer in Wesley Lodge. With a staff of 11 people, she prepared food in the new kitchen to serve three meals each day for 500 to 600 teenagers.
Renovated in 2005, today’s Wesley Lodge still plays an important role in summer youth programming as the dining hall where teens share conversation during daily meals. The Lodge also hosts receptions, dinners, meetings and special events like the Labor Day spaghetti dinner, Mother’s Day brunch, Christmas parties, antique and craft shows, and Red Cross blood drives for Lakeside and the larger Ottawa County community.