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Resort reopens on Lake Wawasee

SYRACUSE, Ind. – A northern Indiana lake resort that was once a religious retreat for a century has reopened to visitors after being shut down five years ago.

The first guests checked into the Oakwood Inn Resort & Conference Center at Lake Wawasee near Syracuse last week after extensive renovation work was done, the Goshen News ( reported.

Oakwood Inn manager Jeremiah Heierman the property was in relatively good shape after being unused for several years and that the renovations were mostly to update the decor.

"We flipped a hotel in basically 120 days," he said. "Everything got stripped out of here from the flooring, wallpaper, ceilings, all the fixtures. Basically the building was gutted and has been redone."

The resort first opened as a religious retreat center in 1893 and covers 27 acres midway between Fort Wayne and South Bend. A development company, which has spent $6 million on renovations, took over the site after it was in court receivership because of financial troubles with the nonprofit foundation that owned it.

The resort has about 80 rooms and a restaurant, along with two convention halls, 10 vacation homes and eight cabins.

Heierman said more upgrades are part of a three-year plan for the site.

"We started with the inn and then we're going to branch out and really work on the rest of the stuff on the property," he said. "The inn was our main focus right now. The restaurant is up and going, that's going to be a really big part of the environment here on Lake Wawasee."