It Happened In There

Just a "little bit of scandal" at
The Willmore Lodge
#1 Willmore Lane
Lake Ozark, Missouri 65049

List of Works Consulted

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Carole Tellman Pilkington,The Story of Bagnell Dam,Lake Area Chamber of Commerce,1989
National Register of Historic Places,NPS form 10-900-a,section 7, pages 16,17,18
Numerous Articles and Interviews,St. Louis Post-Dispatch,January 17, 1939 through August 2, 1941.
Lake Area Chamber of Commerce,Current Photo,1999

Egan Lodge functioned as an administrative center for Union Electric officials to oversee the progress of the Great Osage River Project. That was from 1930 to May of 1931. For the remainder of the '30s, the lodge became host to Union Electric executives, friends, and families as a recreation facility.

As Union Electric pushed for greater coverage of the region's power needs, its interests often clashed with those of local residents who favored alternatives to the powerful company in the form of city owned and generated power. In 1938, the company discharged a senior accountant for refusing to allocate funds for political activities that were in violation of federal law. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch broke the story, and the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation. The activities of Union Electric and the parent company, the North American Company were under scrutiny. The SEC found many things wrong. The Post-Dispach summarized the situation in a 1939 article noting "disclosures of far-reaching political and lobbying activities" of the utility, "including financial aid to favored candidates for public office, lavish entertainment of legislators and other public officials at the Lake of the Ozarks, and huge payments to numerous lawyers." Louis Egan and top Union Electric officials approved direct and indirect campaign contributions, a felonious violation of the Holding Company Act. Much of the illegal activity was conducted at the Lake of the Ozarks on Union Electric property.

The company's methods extended from out-an-out bribes to planting a propagandist on the staff of the St. Charles newspaper to write pro-Union Electric stories during the year preceeding a municipal election involving electric power choice. Before the end of that year, company officials Louis A. Egan, president; Frank J. Boehm, vice-president; and Albert C. Laun, vice-president, had all resigned. Laun, described as an "ace lobbyist" and the company's specialist in taxes and real estate dealings, had served as "master of ceremonies" at weekend parties for city officials and legislators at Red Arrow Lodge, on the Big Niangua arm. Egan himself had hosted "more important political persons" at the 'Administration Building." By the time Union Electric put the lodges up for sale in 1941, Laun and Boehm had already been convicted of perjury in the SEC investigation, while Egan and the company itself were under federal indictment for violation of the corrupt practices section of the Holding Company Act.

The lodge's role as a rustic retreat for UE and its friends was at an end. Union Electric's new management closed the resorts with a public explanation that UE no longer had "use for them." With this being during World War II, the lodge did not readily sell. In fact, the building was occupied only by caretakers and housekeepers for four years until the 1945 purchase by Cyrus Crane Willmore.

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