Oakwood Park home to Oakwood Resort was first known as Conklin Hill named for fishing guide, Bill Conklin. He and his wife had a cabin here prior to 1844. Around 1875, a wood frame hotel was built on that hill. The area was named Oakwood Park when it was acquired by the Indiana Evangelical Conference in 1893. It served as a permanent camp meeting ground for the purpose of spiritual edification and physical recreation and the hotel on the Hill was the park superintendents’ home. Over the years, Oakwood Park developed an extensive summer camping program, a tabernacle and natural outdoor empathy hillside chapel camp, Oaks Lodge, the Program Center, Kimmel Hill, and filled the grounds with private cottages. It has always been an atmosphere that encourages spiritual growth.
The historic Pioneer Cottage across from the hotel’s main lobby entrance was built around 1896. Fully restored in 2000, it preserves early Oakwood history and provides a weekly summer rental home for families. With the Evangelical United Brethren Church formed in 1946, Oakwood Resort became a campground and conference center for the Indiana North Conference, but when the church merged with the Methodist Church in 1968, Oakwood became one of five conference campgrounds. Since 1904, there has been a hotel here on a point of land once known as duck point with great panoramic views of the lake. First, it was a cement block building named Hotel Esther, and it was later renamed Hotel Oakwood.
Replacing the original building was the wood-frame 63 room Hotel Oakwood, which operated from 1927 until it was demolished in 1994. The present-day Oakwood Resort was constructed and reopened on July 3rd, 1996. The property was again sold and renovated in 2013 when the current owners introduced Oakwood Resort as a full-service destination resort. The 3000 square foot Hilltop Reception Hall is primarily used for wedding ceremonies, receptions, and corporate events. The Event Center, built in 1964, is used to host larger wedding receptions, corporate celebrations, fundraisers and concerts. Since 1981, the lawn in front of the Oakwood Resort has been the site of summer boat-in worship services held each Sunday morning from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hundreds of people arrive by boat to enjoy the service that takes place.