Since 1993, the Lied Lodge & Conference Center has grown to become part of the character of Nebraska City, both as a leading employer and as partner to the citizens and to the organizations of the community.
Lied Lodge & Conference Center of Nebraska City, which is in the midst of a silver celebration this August, hosted the Nebraska City Rotary meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 8, and an open house on Thursday, Aug. 9.
It’s been 25 years since the Lied Lodge & Conference Center opened its doors, and Nebraska City’s biggest tourist attraction has designated the first 25 days in the month of August to celebrate with the community and with its guests at the Lodge.
Lied Lodge General Manager Denise DuVall gave a presentation about the 25-year celebration at the Wednesday Rotary meeting.
She began by talking about John Rosenow, the now retired founder of the Arbor Day Foundation, who envisioned a retreat where people could come to commune over nature and trees.
That vision became an Arbor Day Foundation treasure which blossomed and now covers a campus, not only for conferences and meetings but for leisure and for marking the most important moments in life.
It inspires guests with a unique story that can only be told by the Arbor Day Foundation and the impact of that story resonates well beyond any stay at the Lodge.
Built in 1993, the Lodge originally had 93 rooms. It was built thanks to a congressional grant with matching funds from Lied, from the Arbor Day Foundation and from the members of the Arbor Day Foundation.
Originally a conference center and a hotel run by a partner company, the facility expanded to incorporate Arbor Day Farm and, thanks to a partnership with the state of Nebraska, Arbor Lodge State Park.
The facility has now grown to 144 rooms including suites and now employs 220 people. It began with 60 employees.
Duvall said the change from conference center to retreat has been the prime driver to grow Lied Lodge & Conference Center.
In addition to meetings and conferences, Lied Lodge & Conference Center hosts weddings, family reunions, church retreats and more.
In 25 years, the Lied Lodge & Conference Center has hosted over a million visitors and that number doesn’t include the multitude of day visitors.
While the impact of the Lied Lodge & Conference Center is one that can be measured on site, the Nebraska City organization has never lost sight of the community impact it can make and of the community involvement that keys its success.
Duvall said every effort is made to invest guests in Arbor Day Farm and Arbor Lodge and also to get them interested in all parts of Nebraska City.
The people of Nebraska City promote Lied Lodge & Conference Center and the employees of the facility return the favor.
“This community has been fabulous over the 25 years,” Duvall said. “It’s a stronger relationship every year.
‘We are pretty excited that we made it 25 years. We couldn’t have done it without the community along the way.”
As another way to celebrate 25 years, Duvall said the Arbor Day Foundation is going to match the original community investment made at its parking lot arboretum.
At the time of the facility construction, Duvall said community members in Nebraska City donated trees which, spaded into the parking lot arboretum, provided instant shade and gave the grounds a more developed appearance.
In return, Duvall said the Arbor Day Foundation will plant 25 trees in the city of Nebraska City.
The city will direct the tree placement, but Duvall speculates that trees may be placed in areas where storm damage claimed trees or at newer facilities in need of shade trees.
At Thursday’s open house, Nebraska City Mayor Bryan Bequette read a proclamation recognizing the silver anniversary of the Lied Lodge & Conference Center and remarked about the impact that the facility has made in Nebraska City.
“It’s hard to believe 25 years have gone by so quickly,” he said. “It’s amazing what this facility has been over the years.”
Bequette recalled the comments of frequent visitor and Nebraska congressional representative Jeff Fortenberry who has called Lied Lodge & Conference Center a gem, not only for Nebraska City and southeast Nebraska, but for the state of Nebraska as a whole because its genuine hospitality is paired with a unique story and mission.
“It’s truly an honor to be here as a part of it in Nebraska City,” said Bequette. “This has become a very integrated and woven part of Nebraska City, and, for that, we are grateful.”
More about Lied Lodge & Conference Center
The Lied Lodge and Conference Center is one part of the Arbor Day Foundation’s mission.
“We inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees,” Duvall said.
That story goes all the way back to Arbor Day itself and to the holiday’s founder, Julius Sterling Morton.
It was only appropriate then that the Arbor Day Foundation play a role in the operation of Morton’s former home, Arbor Lodge.
“That really completes our story of who we are and why we are here,” Duvall said.
“Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future,” Morton once wrote.
And the Arbor Day Foundation looks forward to that future with new initiatives including a goal to plant 100 million trees and to engage with five million tree planters.
When successful, that goal will help to provide clean water, beautiful landscapes and rebuilt forests along with new jobs and food.
The Lied Lodge & Conference Center helps to forward the goals of the Arbor Day Foundation by providing a genuine family experience with impact resulting in inspiration.