On May 8, 1985, the National Register of Historic Places anointed the famous Starved Rock Lodge and its nearby cabins. Once known as a vacation hotspot with a hotel and dance pavilion, Starved Rock opened as a state park in 1912 when officials bought the land from a developer/entrepreneur.
The New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps did much of the work to make Starved Rock the easily accessible hiking area we enjoy today. CCC workers–including African Americans, an unusual detail for a CCC troupe–broke the trails, placed the three camp sites, and began work on the now-iconic Lodge. Designed by Urbana native Joseph F. Buten (or Booton), the Lodge featured the so-called Great Room and the giant two-sided limestone fireplace that many consider synonymous with the park itself. The lodge now offers an indoor pool and after expansion began billing itself as a conference center.