Early Stages of Lakeview
Local businessman Newton Cole and his wife bought the Lakeview grounds on December 8th, 1911 and sold it to the Onondaga Annual Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church for $1,200. From 1912 to 1942 the Methodist Protestant Church held summer conferences. Many people from central New York came by train to Lycoming and were brought to the campgrounds at Lakeview by horse and wagon. Initially tents were used for living courters, meals, and worship. In 1920 a wooden Tabernacle was built that entailed saw dust and wood chips on the floor, oil lamps, and wooden benches for seating.
As a result of the Methodist Conference merging with the United Methodist Conference, they decided they didn’t need two camps in the area. Consequently, they decided to sell Lakeview. Many of the ministers who owned a cottage at Lakeview, organized the Lakeview Park Association on October 17th, 1942. From 1943-1946 they operated a children’s camp and rented the grounds to various organizations.
The Beginning of OBC
The conference was founded by Rev. Homer Mac Arthur of Dubois, PA. Ontario Bible Camp held its first session in a large tent at Richland Ave, Fair Haven, NY on August 14th-21st, 1921. They purchased Maplewood Lodge and met in a tent until a new cinder block tabernacle (still standing today) was built in 1926. In the same year, OBC filed for its incorporation.
By 1944 the conferences average attendance was 236 in the morning services and 505 in the evening services. In 1945, the conferences were overflowing, serving as many as 6,000 meals during a two-week conference.
On August 5th, 1946 the OBC Silver Jubilee was held at the Lakeview property. Traveling from Fair Haven to Lakeview with a 60 car caravan and nearly 400 people, they were escorted by a state trooper and Oswego city police. With all of the OBC directors present, they signed the contract to purchase the Lakeview property for $10,000.
In the coming months they added the purchase of the farm across the road for $1.00 which added 41 acres to the current 11.21 acres. The following year, the Maplewood Lodge at Fair Haven was sold and several buildings were moved to Lakeview. Later in the 60’s, another purchase of the athletic fields was made, bringing the total to 53 acres.