Nestled amidst the pristine beauty of the Ozark Mountains, Big Cedar Lodge exudes rustic charm and timeless elegance. Among the various historical gems on this remarkable property, the Worman House holds a special place. Steeped in history, the Worman House serves as a remarkable testament to the legacy of Big Cedar Lodge. Join us as we delve into the captivating story of this enchanting estate.
As you explore its hallowed halls and take in the surrounding natural beauty, you can’t help but feel a connection to the past—a timeless bond that unites visitors across generations. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a retreat in nature, the Worman House offers guests a glimpse into the past at this now upscale restaurant and a chance to create cherished memories of your own.
Built in the early 1920s by Frisco Railways executive, Harry Worman, Harry lived here with his wife Dorothy. This grand estate served as their country retreat, a place where they could escape the hustle and bustle of Springfield, Missouri, and entertain their friends. In this story, we dive into the intriguing history of the Worman House, from its origins as a haven of luxury to the tragic events that unfolded within its walls.
The Vision of Harry and Dorothy
Harry Worman and his wife Dorothy shared a love for Springfield but desired a peaceful countryside escape. With this vision in mind, they discovered the perfect piece of land and embarked on building their dream estate. The Wormans wanted a place where they could relax on weekends and host lavish gatherings for their friends. The Worman House became a reflection of their refined taste and sophistication.
A Residence Fit for Luxury
The Worman House boasted an array of luxurious amenities, far ahead of its time. With running water, electric lights, and the county’s first telephone, the Wormans enjoyed modern comforts that their neighbors wouldn’t have for decades in the Ozarks. Their extravagant lifestyle extended to their staff, including a chauffeur who resided next door above the garage in what is now Truman Café and Custard. The Wormans also had a caretaker in the neighboring cottage, and a skilled chef who prepared delectable meals using exotic meats sourced from all over the country.
In consideration of Dorothy’s Catholic faith, Harry had a stunning glass chapel built on the front of the house. This sacred space added a touch of spiritual serenity to the beauty of the estate and exemplified the Wormans’ dedication to creating a harmonious haven.
Divorce & Dorothy’s Mysterious Demise
Tragically, after seven years of marriage, Harry and Dorothy divorced. Some speculate that Dorothy’s loneliness played a significant role in their separation. Harry’s frequent business trips often left her alone. Despite the divorce, Dorothy retained ownership of the estate and continued to reside there, seeking solace in its familiar halls.
In 1943, Dorothy journeyed to Mexico, where she met and married Enrique Romero. However, less than a year later, she was discovered dead in a hotel bathtub in Mexico City. An autopsy revealed an overdose of sleeping pills, and her husband was never found. Dorothy’s body was cremated and brought back to the Worman House for a funeral that saw no attendees, except for a young pastor named Dr. Graham Clark. In honor of Dorothy’s love for the estate, her ashes were spread on the back porch, forever intertwining her spirit with the house.
Since Dorothy’s passing, numerous witnesses have reported encountering her ghost within the Worman House. Big Cedar Lodge associates have countless stories to share about Dorothy’s lingering presence. Despite her tragic end, the house that brought her solace continues to be cherished and appreciated by visitors today.
The Present-Day Worman House
Today, the Worman House has undergone a massive transformation. It houses a fine dining restaurant within its walls, offering a remarkable culinary experience to Big Cedar Lodge guests and property visitors. The bar, which once served as Big Cedar’s front desk, has a rich history of its own, dating back to the late 1980s. The breathtaking view from the back porch, overlooking Table Rock Lake in 1958, is a sight the Wormans never had the chance to witness.
In 1987, the property surrounding the Worman House found its new owner in Johnny Morris, a visionary entrepreneur and founder of Bass Pro Shops. Recognizing the historical significance and potential of the estate, Morris embarked on an expansion project that would breathe new life into the already magnificent residence. The house was expanded to include new areas, catering to the evolving needs of guests. Among the notable additions are two private dining rooms, The Library and the Chef’s Room, that offer guests a unique and elegant dining experience within the grandeur of the Worman House.
Johnny Morris’s commitment to exceptional craftsmanship is evident throughout the Worman House. Custom chandeliers, adorning the private dining rooms and other areas, are handcrafted by the skilled artisans of the Bass Pro Fabrication Shop, located in Nixa, Missouri. This dedicated team of craftsmen specializes in creating exquisite metalwork, including gates, railings, and chandeliers, which can be seen throughout the property. As visitors step into this magnificent estate, they are greeted by a seamless blend of history, luxury, and the visionary spirit of Johnny Morris.
A Fine Dining Experience
Big Cedar Lodge’s Worman House Restaurant is true haven for fine dining enthusiasts. With a diverse menu, the restaurant offers an array of delectable dishes including lobster thermidor, steaks, seafood pot pie and more. Guests can even savor the sips of unique hand-crafted cocktails that honor the past including Dorothy’s Smoked Old Fashioned and The Worman Manhattan. Explore the full Worman House menu and make reservations here.