Our Story

A purchase in 1915 lead to many generations making The Keeter Center their home.

A picture of the original Dobyns Hall building

Rebuilding the Past

Founded in 1906 by Presbyterian minister Reverend James Forsythe as a high school called The School of the Ozarks®, the institution became a junior college in 1956 before becoming a four-year bachelor’s program in 1965. It has been called College of the Ozarks since 1990.

The School was relocated from Forsyth to Point Lookout after fire destroyed Mitchell Hall, the main dormitory and classroom building.  At Point Lookout, 207 acres and a log building (the former State of Maine building at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair) was purchased for $15,000 - the same amount as the insurance on Mitchell Hall.

The log building, renamed Dobyns Hall, was used as the primary school building beginning in 1915. Fire struck again in 1930, and Dobyns Hall burned to the ground. 

In 2004, the College opened The Keeter Center, a replica of Dobyns Hall.  This piece of living history serves as a hands-on learning tool for students who participate in the work program. The Keeter Center is an award-winning lodge, restaurant, and conference facility located on the C of O campus.

A girl holding a tray of freshly baked pastries.

An Education That Works

Unlike any other restaurant in Branson, Missouri, The Keeter Center is cared for by college students who are diligently working for their education. Every item: whether a meal, a scoop of ice cream, or a coffee, is prepared with guests in mind and students' hands. Many students wake before guests are stirring to prepare fresh ingredients and clean spaces for each family that passes through.

Students not only work at the front desk and in the kitchen, but they are also your servers, the individuals that knock for room service, and many other behind-the-scenes positions. All locations in The Keeter Center are staffed with smiling students who are striving for a big future. Students who are accepted into the work education program demonstrate a financial need and are ready to work for their cost of education.

While working at The Keeter Center, students develop personal characteristics like reliability, teamwork, collaboration, initiative, motivation, responsibility, accountability, quality work, and communication skills. Students receive a work grade that helps them develop an impressive set of credentials to show future employers. In turn, the students are helping create a memorable experience for the guests while developing important workforce character that will help them for years to come.

Support Our Mission



Support the College's five fold mission to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.



The mission of College of the Ozarks is to provide the advantages of a Christian education for youth of both sexes, especially those found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.


The vision of College of the Ozarks is to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well educated, hard-working, and patriotic.



Want to know more?

College of the Ozarks' students work to meet the needs of The Keeter Center guests.