The land that is now the Green Lake Conference Center was initially developed by Victor and Jessie Lawson. Victor was the successful publisher of the Chicago Daily News and the couple had honeymooned in Green Lake. In 1888, the Lawsons purchased an initial 10 acres and began a building program that included homes for themselves and their staff, 12 miles of paved road, farm buildings, stone walls and bridges, a boathouse, greenhouses, water towers, a golf course, and more. Much of this work was inspired by what Jessie Lawson saw during her travels throughout Europe. The Lawsons continued to buy more land and build more infrastructure until they owned and managed more than 1,100 acres along the shore of Green Lake.
When the Lawsons died, the property was sold to the H.O. Stone Company of Chicago in 1925. The Stone Company endeavored to create a gated luxury resort and added an 80-room hotel with a bar and casino, an outdoor swimming pool, 25 additional homes, and what is now the Lawsonia Links golf course. The stock market crash in 1929 and the Great Depression led to financial struggles for the resort through the 1930s, and ultimately, closure of the grounds in the early 1940s.
In 1943, the American Baptist denomination purchased the property for $300,000, with the intention to transform the area into a conference center. Now called the Green Lake Conference Center, the 900 acres feature the conference center space with meeting and lodging areas, privately owned homes, the 36 holes of the Golf Courses of Lawsonia, a campgrounds, rental homes and cabins, and recreational areas including biking, boat rentals, tennis, volleyball, and a beach.
In addition to the modern elements and amenities within the conference center, the grounds also feature many of the original Lawson-era buildings.