Stay where your parents and Grandparents stayed!
The Rockwood Resort Motel, located in Lake Ozark at the top of the Bagnell Dam Strip is one of the very few Mom & Pop roadside Americana motels remaining at the Lake of the Ozarks. While updating and additions were made over the years, it has managed to preserve the nostalgic, family owned, quaint atmosphere that we remember from the past. The Rockwood while being one of the oldest such facilities in the Lake area, also has 2 outdoor pools that are boosted to be the best pools in the Lake area, with one of them being an original “Esther Williams” swimming pool that is still in use today!
The Rockwood also has quite a storied past-
Cloyd and Clara Perrin purchased the property from William E. and Marie P. Foersterling who had bought the property from Union Electric in July 1945 from Union Electric when they were selling off their property holdings after the completion of the construction of Bagnell Dam. Shortly afterward they built their rock home. Being just after WWII, building materials were scare, and most all the materials, except for the rocks and the flooring for the house came from demolished barracks buildings at Fort Leonard Wood. Clara tended the business of the old Deer Motel next door. The Deer Motel had been built by John Deere, (JB Deere Cedarcrafts) and as he was busy with his other business, Clara ran the motel for him. Clara also owned a gift shop on the Bagnell Dam Strip next to the White House. She and her daughter made cement pottery to supplement their income. Cloyd was also a boat captain and piloted excursion boats at the dam like the Larry Don, and the Miss Edgewater.
In the early 1950’s Clara and Cloyd decided that they could have their own small motel. In 1953 they built the three little stone cabins that had 2 units in each cabin, which still exists today. The name of their new motel was called the Rock-Wood Court. They named it so simply because of its’ construction. Rock and wood. A few years later, they renamed it the Rock-Wood Motel. In 1957 they installed an in-ground “Esther Williams” pool to compliment the business, and in 1958 built another building with 4 more units. In 1965 another building was built adding 2 more units. In 1972 Clara and Cloyd retired and their grandson, Jim Sexton, purchased the Rock Wood Motel from them. They added on to the house and also added 4 more units to the Rock Wood. In 1978 Jim and his wife bought the motel called the Capri, which was next door to the Rock Wood and combined the two businesses into one. Hence was born the Rock-Wood Capri. The Capri Motel’s past is even more storied than the Rock Wood Court.
The Capri was originally built by Hatfield and Ethel Frazee in the 1940’s. (Anyone remember “Frazee’s Rock Garden”?) The original house was an old Sears-Roebuck catalog home which still stands today. He also owned and operated the drive in theaters in Osage Beach (where KRMS Radio station is) and the one in Camdenton (where the School is now). He eventually sold to a man by the last name of Hoffman. The name was then changed to Hoffman’s Cottages. He and his wife also had a restaurant on the strip. They sold to Jimmy and Pat Moore. The Moore’s changed the name to Moore’s Motel and added a pool. The place was sold again to a Bill and Juanita Whitfield and the name changed again to the Frontier Motel. Bill was a teacher at the old Osage High school building behind the motel. The Frontier was then sold to Bob and Lauralee Ford in 1965. They changed the name to the Capri Motel. Originally the Capri was a small home (the old Sears Roebuck catalog home) with 2 small units behind it and also two units, and two small cabins facing 54 hwy in front. In 1967 Fords’ also built another building housing 7 more units in it, and in 1969 another building with 2 units in it. The Ford's demolished the two old cabins and built the two story building in 1972. To separate the Rock Wood from the Capri, there was an 8 foot solid wood fence between the facilities and ran between the two pools. The Capri was then sold to William T. and Vergie M. Harl.
On April 7, 1977, the Sexton’s (the Rock-Wood Motel) purchased the Capri Motel from the Harl’s. Hence the name change of the combined facilities to the Rockwood Capri Motel. Since 1980, the Rockwood Capri ownership changed several times, and in 2001 was purchased by Jeff and Donna Van Donsel. They changed the name to simply the Rockwood Resort Motel, which it still remains today.
The Van Donsel’s restored and updated the Rockwood while maintaining the old time atmosphere and appearance of days gone by. The Rockwood offers clean affordable lodging and good old time Ozark hospitality with units that range from a basic single unit that accommodates 1 or 2, to units that will accommodate up to 7 with full kitchens and all the comforts of home, and everything in between. It is located at the top of the famous Bagnell Dam Strip within walking distance to all the eclectic stores, arcades and curio shops there, and only minutes to all the major attractions at the Lake of the Ozarks. The Rockwood has 2 out door pools, hot tubs, picnic area with grills, coin wash, and even though it maintains that nostalgic and old time appeal, has many modern touches such as cable TV and free WiFi for it’s customers. The Rockwood is now again one of the favorite family oriented lodging facilities at the Lake. Staying at the Rockwood is as close as you can get to stepping back in time and enjoying the way it was years or decades ago when families vacationing at the Lake looked forward to meeting up with friends made while staying at the mom & pop family facilities like the Rockwood. That is the Rockwood appeal. Family, friends and a nostalgic trip back to the past and a simpler time. So, the next time you are at the Lake of the Ozarks, we recommend you “stay where your parents and grandparents stayed”!