Governor Nixon cut the ribbon to signify the opening to the newly renovated CCC Lodge at Roaring River State Park on Friday, May 6. Pictured above, from left to right, are: Kerry Hays, Roaring River State Park director; Scott Fitzpatrick, State Representative; Gary Schad, Barry County northern commissioner; Gov. Jay Nixon; Bill Bryan, Missouri State Parks director; Wayne Hendrix, Barry County southern commissioner; Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner.
The interior of the lodge has been renovated with updates, such as energy efficient heating and air and double-pane windows added to make the building more environmentally-friendly. The meeting space, pictured above, as well as some of the rooms still utilize the existing fireplaces on opposite ends of the lodge.
May 11, 2016
After a year and a half of planning and construction, the historic CCC Lodge at Roaring River State Park is now open as a lodging option for park visitors. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Friday afternoon, May 6, hosted by Missouri State Parks director Bill Bryan with a special appearance by Governor Jay Nixon.
A large group stood outside the lodge on the sunny Friday afternoon to watch the ribbon cutting and take a tour of the lodge two days before reservations would be available.
Bryan welcomed the audience and thanked park staff for all they did to make the $1.2 million project possible. In his speech, Bryan noted that Roaring River had over 560,000 visitors in 2015, a huge number.
He said, “We hope that with the addition of this lodging, even more families can enjoy the park than before.”
Nixon also addressed the crowd, showing his pride for the project and what it means to not only Roaring River, but State Parks as a whole. He said, “When I became governor, there had been a decline in state parks attendance and since then, many others states’ parks have been closing. But when I was elected, I said that I would protect and improve parks, and through bipartisan efforts, we’ve been able to do that.” In 2015, Missouri State Parks had 19.2 million visitors, an increase of 30 percent since 2008. Nixon gave credit partially to “outstanding leadership” from the Missouri State Parks director Bill Bryant and staff across the state to make that increase happen.
Nixon reminisced about coming to Cassville in 1987 and having a lunch meeting at that time with Senator Emory Melton. He said, “We wouldn’t be here where we are today without visionaries like Emory Melton leading the way.”
He praised State Parks for dedicating the time and funding to the project. “When we talk about the outdoors and State Parks, there is no more better legacy we can leave than that for our children. We are working to leave Missouri State Parks better than we found it.”
At the close of his speech, the governor shared a quote from John James Audubon: “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”
After, when asked when he would be staying at the lodge, he said he had hoped to stay that evening, but other obligations prevented that. He said, “I’ll be back. This park is very dear to me. Be rest assured that Georgeann and I will be back this year.”
“This is a day that’s been a long time coming. It’s a great day for our state.”
While Nixon was on site, he signed a panel on the original wall of the lodge next to where one of the workers signed it during the original construction between 1936 and 1938. The panel is preserved behind one of the fire extinguishers installed in the lodge.
The tour of the lodge revealed the final product which is seven guest rooms and a gathering space on the bottom floor. The rooms were obviously much more spacious than the initial rooms in the 1930’s, with 11 rooms on the main floor. Some of the rooms utilize the original fireplaces on opposite ends of the building. The rooms feature new oak panelling and floors with the construction done to preserve as much of the original architecture as possible. Oak wall panels overlay the original walls.
Structurally, the lodge received some foundation work, but overall, the building remains unchanged. Preserving the integrity of the architecture was paramount of the project. Nixon said, “With the centennial of Missouri State Parks, it was only fitting to restore this to its original use of lodging.”
David Waugh, general manager for Roaring River’s concessionaire MO Parks, Inc., said the opening of the lodge has special significance to him. “It’s exciting to see. When I came down here, the park store was here. This building has a lot of memories for me,” he said. Waugh said he heard and shared a number of fishing stories in the park store at the CCC Lodge before the new store was opened.
When asked, Waugh said that they will not need to hire additional staff to manage the additional lodging. He stated, “We’ll be using existing staff. I have great staff.”
The initial announcement that the historic lodge was going to be renovated occurred at the annual Roaring River meeting in September 2014. Since then, the path to completion of the project has taken twists and turns, including stalling temporarily because of funding concerns.
Initially, the renovation was to be paid for out of a $20 million appropriation by the Missouri legislature for the fiscal year 2015 budget to the Department of Natural Resources to use for historic site projects including maintenance and renovations. At the end of the year, around $5 million was spent, and Gov. Nixon requested the remaining $15 million to be reappropriated in the 2015 budget along with $50 million in bonding capacity for parks projects. However, legislators only awarded $10 million to state parks, causing the administration to reevaluate their projects.
While the lodge was not completed by Opening Day 2016 when State Parks initially hoped, renovations were complete with reservations open from early May until the end of trout season on October 31.
The seven rooms in the new lodge will rent for between $119 and $139 per night, depending on amenities. The cost for renting the common area on the bottom floor is yet to be determined.
Waugh said, “We’ve had a lot of reservations, but I’m not sure exactly how many. The first round of reservations extend all the way out to October.”
To make reservations in the newly renovated lodge, contact the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center at (417) 847-2330.