Major upgrades are coming to the lodge at one of the region’s most popular state parks.
Hueston Woods State Park, which spans Butler and Preble counties, will receive $3.3 million in state funding for upgrades, including replacing the roof, exterior work and minor structural repairs.
“The existing roof is beyond its useful lifecycle and is exposing the building to water infiltration and damage,” according to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources request.
All work on the project is scheduled to start in the spring and be completed by mid-October 2020, according to ODNR.
The State Controlling Board approved the release of the funds Dec. 2 during a regularly scheduled meeting.
MORE: From the archives: History of Hueston Woods lodge in old black-and-white photos
Located five miles north of Oxford at 5201 Lodge Road in the village of College Corner, the Hueston Woods State Park lodge is situated on a bluff overlooking 625-acre Acton Lake. It opened July 8, 1967.
The lodge provides recreational activities, primarily dining and lodging, with access to outdoor facilities to the park users and the public in general.
It sits within the state park, a 3,000-acre outdoor recreation property that features cabins, campsites, canoeing, fishing, fossil hunting, golfing, hiking, paintball, disc golf, miniature golf and a an 18-hole championship golf course.
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This will be the first major renovation to the 92,300-square-foot lodge, which has dining facilities, an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor swimming pool and 92 guest rooms, including king rooms, queen lake view rooms, queen rooms, ADA-compliant rooms, and luxury suites.
Except for a front entry addition in 1991, no significant renovations have occurred.
Other lodge amenities include a dining room, snack bar, gift shop, meeting rooms, lounge, fitness room, game room, and lighted tennis court.
A legal notice for bids for the project elicited one bid: NR Lee Restoration Ltd. in Allen County, which submitted a $2.8 million bid for the project.
MORE: HISTORIC PHOTOS: Looking back at Hueston Woods park and lodge through the years
State Rep. J. Todd Smith, R-Farmersville, said he appreciates the State Controlling Board’s support for such local projects.
“I’m happy to work hard and bring state resources back to our district for the benefit of our residents,” Smith told this news outlet. “Investing in our public lands will help to provide quality recreational opportunities for generations to come.”
Ohio has 75 state parks. Hueston Woods and other state park lodges are operated by management companies hired by ODNR.
In 2012, the lodge came under the management of U.S. Hotel & Resort Management, which is part of Regency Hotel Management. It is marketed under Great Ohio Lodges.
The grand opening of the lodge in 1967 was highlighted by a front-page story in the Hamilton Journal and Daily News of July 10 that year, featuring a photo of Ohio Gov. James A. Rhodes, who was on hand for the opening two days earlier.
The story quoted Rhodes as calling the $3 million property “the showcase of Ohio” and saying “It is the best we have to offer.”
He went on praise the quality of the project, comparing it to another effort out west.
“Compared to Teton Lodge (in Grand Teton National Park, in Wyoming), this place, with its ‘Trailblazer Room,’ makes the Teton Lodge look like a toolshed,” the governor joked.
Rhodes said the lodge joined those at Burr Oak and Punderson state parks as the first three financed by bonds approved in 1963 and 1965 to finance state capital improvements.
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