In 1918, Eugene Bradley Clark, founder of Clark Equipment Company, purchased 100 acres on a bluff overlooking the St. Joseph River as a place to build his summer home. He built the lodge in 1921 and named it Tapawingo, meaning “Place of My Joys.”
What Eugene Clark built to be a place of his joys, God allowed Life Action Ministries to obtain. We strive to make it a place where pastors and Christian leaders can have their joy restored as they seek to honor the Lord in their family and ministry. Below is a brief history of this place of joy and how Life Action acquired it.
Mr. Clark died in July 1942, and Mrs. Clark continued to live at Tapawingo until 1949. The house and grounds were sold to the Ernest Morris family of South Bend, Indiana. Mr. Morris was the founder of Associates Investment Company and the First Bank & Trust Company of South Bend. He was also the director of Clark Equipment Company from 1935 until his death in 1951. Mrs. Morris continued to use the house as a summer residence until her death in 1969. Her daughter, Ernestine (Carmichael) Raclin, purchased the property.
At that time, Mrs. Raclin’s husband, O. C. Carmichael, was Chairman and President of Associates Investment Company. The property was sold to Associates and used as a meeting and lodging facility, and the name was changed to The Associates Lodge. Gulf and Western purchased Associates in 1969 and moved the company headquarters from South Bend to Dallas in 1976. In the same year, Notre Dame University acquired the lodge through the generous donation of Ernestine Carmichael, and they leased it to Clark Equipment Company. In 1985, Clark Equipment Company purchased the lodge from Notre Dame.
From here on, the history becomes a bit sketchy; however, in January 1996, Clark Equipment deeded the lodge over to National Steel Corporation. In that same year, a couple by the name of Bill and Nora Johnson eventually became owners of the lodge. With the help of their property manager, Tim Niffenegger, they did a stellar job at efforts to restore the property to its original splendor.
In August 1999, they sold the property to an anonymous donor who, in September of 2001, gifted the property to Life Action Ministries. The story of God’s provision for Life Action Ministries’ beautiful facilities is recorded in the booklet “Remembering God’s Goodness.”