Mission Statement

As a dedicated, Christ-like team we will provide a Christian setting in which life changing experiences may occur for all involved.

The History of Windermere

spring-Valley-trail-(37)Hidden in the woods on the edge of the Lake of the Ozarks is a treasure we call Windermere. It is a beautiful place where our guests come to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Here they find a retreat where they can draw closer to God, friends, and family. Windermere is many things to many people–a conference center, a camp, a recreation spot, and a wonderful place for a family vacation.

The first non-Native American to settle on these grounds was a man named Walmsley who immigrated here in 1829. In 1830, Judge George T. Moulder purchased the land from Walmsley. At that time, they lived here with the local Native Americans from the Delaware and the Osage tribes. The Moulder family and the Native Americans shared the land and used the cave for refrigeration. Judge Moulder resided on the property until his death in 1886. At that time there was no lake, only fertile farming land.

In the early 1900’s the small town of Cave-Pump grew and thrived in the area that is now the Windermere Cove. The town was so named because it grew up around a hole that penetrated the top of the cave providing easy access to fresh water from the spring that originated in the cave below. Postal records show that Cave-Pump remained in existence for a number of years after the Civil War. Also living in the area at this time was a group of horse thieves, gamblers and counterfeiters. They founded the Bank of Niangua, at Ha Ha Tonka Cave where they minted counterfeit Mexican dollars. The conflicts between these two groups ended in a violent struggle known as the Slicker War.

100222_09_BagnellDamEarlyConstructionIn 1931 Bagnell Dam was constructed on the Osage River resulting in the formation of the Lake of the Ozarks. Campbell Taggert Associated Bakeries purchased the land that is now the core of the campus from Union Electric in 1937. Two associates of the bakery, J.W. Carence and Lou Bernhardt, came here on a fishing trip. They were so impressed with the area that upon their return to Kansas City they proposed that they acquire cabin sites and build a weekend retreat. The bakery acquired 400 acres and built 21 buildings to be used as a private resort for their employees to enjoy, with their families, free of charge. Most of these buildings are still in use today. The grounds became known officially as the “Windermere Club” at that time because of the resemblance to the land surrounding Windermere Lake in England where Mr. Carence and his wife had visited the previous year. Campbell Taggert Bakeries grew and soon the grounds of Windermere became too far removed from the company for most of the employees to enjoy. The decision was made to sell the property.

The Missouri Baptist Assembly of Churches purchased the “Windermere Club” in September, 1957. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur H. Koehler began their official duties as managers at Windermere on January 1, 1958. Arthur served as Manager and Marge supervised Food Service. The Koehler’s provided leadership for 32 years. The first summer, two RA camps were held with a total of 75 boys and counselors attending. The boys stayed in the eleven cabins in Spring Valley and LakeView.

Conditions for the first guests were primitive and meals were served on a ping pong table. The old office building was used as a kitchen, dining hall and auditorium. That fall work began on twenty new cabins in Cedar Grove. By the next summer Windermere had a new kitchen, dining hall and auditorium. That first full summer there were 6,453 registered visitors.

Harding Addition Construction 1962 (1)In 1962 building began again; the auditorium was enlarged, the motel was built, a banquet area was added to the dining hall and work began on the Children’s Building. In late August, 1964 the new RA-GA camps were started in the Spring Valley and Lake View Areas. The growth continued in 1965 when the new office, snack shop, manager’s residence and swimming area were added. During 1969 more than 15,468 guests visited Windermere. That winter improvements were made to the lobby, and the snack shop area was developed.

Two challenges faced Windermere in the early 1990’s:

  1. Make the assembly a year round conference center operation.
  2. Implement one of the three Master Plans that had been prepared but not yet implemented.

With this in mind the Windermere Board of Advisors was created to be a “grass roots” organization to review the existing master plans, refine, and implement them. Dr. Arthur Mallory, a Springfield layman, serves as Chairman of this group, and was also elected the first Chairman of the Trustee Board in 2001.

This group oversaw the addition of more than twenty buildings. Lake View Lodge conference center was then completed in May 2002 boosting Windermere’s capacity to 1,250. In 2003 construction began on Phase I of the New Wilderness Creek Campus. This first phase provides 84 new lodge rooms accommodating more than six hundred guests. This expansion allowed Windermere to accommodate many larger conferences and groups that previously were unable to utilize the facilities because of limited space. The new campus includes a 1500-seat auditorium to meet the needs of these groups. Wilderness Creek is nestled on a beautiful, wooded hillside overlooking a natural creek that winds through the valley toward the lake.

Windermere has added significant and varied recreational activities and venues for guests that include, The EDGE challenge course, The SPLASH aqua park, The FOREST wilderness paintball experience and multiple other individual and group activities.

Today, Windermere can accommodate groups up to 2000 and each year nearly 30,000 guests visit the campus.  Windermere will always continue to grow and change, and yet in many ways it remains the same. These grounds hold many memories for those who have come, both as guests and as staff. Thousands of decisions have been made here since 1957. Many met their Savior in a personal way for the first time, while others committed to full time Christian service. Each day a new page is written in the life of Windermere and in the lives of those touched by its beauty and its ministry.Color-Event