Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

A Legacy of Leadership

Frank D. Lupton Outdoor Education Building


Black and white aerial photo of Horn Field Campus

In 1917, early Macomb physician, Dr. Joseph Bacon via his wife, Elizabeth Bailey Bacon, become the owners of the land on which Horn Field Campus currently resides. When Joseph passed away, the land was given to his son, Lieutenant Colonel William S. Bacon. During the Great Depression, the current brick buildings that still remain were originally constructed. While the location was originally intended as a family retreat, the current lodge, built in 1932, was used to hold private parties and entertain political guests. In 1946, local Coke bottler and civic-minded businessman, Frank J. “Pappy” Horn, purchased the property for use as a retreat center for agricultural and outdoor education.

In May 1965, the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities approved a resolution allowing Western Illinois University to purchase the property. With an appraisal at that time of $96,200, the state agreed to pay $56,000 of the total. The remaining $40,200 was a generous donation from Frank Horn. To honor his generosity, the property came to be named the Frank J. Horn Field Campus. Horn is quoted in a 1965 Western Courier article as saying, “If a person were to try to duplicate the buildings today, he couldn’t do it for less than $500,000.”

Located one mile south of Macomb, the 92-acre field campus includes woodlands, prairie and several miles of nature trails. Since 1965, a number of improvements have been made to enhance the services to WIU students and surrounding community groups. In 1980, with the help of the Youth Conservation Corps, a teams course was developed. In 2001, a climbing tower was constructed, and a high ropes course was added. In 2006, a camp site and viewing areas were established along Lazy Creek Trail.


Black and white photo of people using binoculars at Horn Field

Over the past 50 years, Horn Field Campus has offered thousands of students and guests, of all ages and backgrounds, unique and memorable programs that have been tailored to their specific needs. Participants at Horn Field gain invaluable experience in building community through leadership, group dynamics, service-based stewardship and concern for natural surroundings. Groups that have benefitted from these experiences include not only WIU students and staff, but also area Upward Bound youth, church youth groups, inner-city youth coalitions, scouting groups and area athletic teams of all ages.

Students climbing the rope course at Horn Field Campus

The Horn Field Campus experience centers around self-actualization regarding human interaction and the interdependence of people and the environment. Participants of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are prepared to confront the diverse global challenges of the society and environment they inhabit. From the confidence and team-building achieved on the low and high ropes courses, to the crucial skills attained in Wilderness First Responder courses, Horn Field Campus has affected the lives of all that have visited.

Today, with more than 100 user groups, in addition to WIU academic classes, which result in 7,000 individual users on an annual basis, Horn’s 50 person lodge has become overwhelmed. It has become increasingly difficult to serve those who seek these experiences. The time has come to build an outdoor education building, which will not only meet the growing instructional needs for WIU’s students and programs, but also act as a continued and expanded resource for the community. This building is much more than a classroom.


Aerial view of artist renderings for the proposed building

The Frank D. Lupton Outdoor Education Building will support leadership activities and outdoor education opportunities for regional primary, secondary and college students, faculty, alumni, Macomb community members and a myriad of visiting groups from outside the area. Features will include:

  • Classroom and meeting space with state of the art technology and the ability to accommodate large groups
  • Expedition staging area and equipment storage for outdoor gear
  • Geothermal systems to promote sustainable and efficient use of energy
  • Kitchen area that meets state health codes
  • Restroom and utility infrastructure to replace inadequate and antiquated facilities

The outdoor education building will serve as the nerve center for student learning. Students will jump off from here to state and national parks like the Everglades, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Tetons, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Lake Superior and hundreds of other lakes, rivers and seashores across the United States, Canada and Mexico. It will provide secure and direct access to the specialized equipment and supplies vital to classes, programs and expeditions. Here, students will learn the nuts and bolts of logistical planning, administrative leadership and management. From here, they will embark on the backpacking, canyoneering, kayaking, canoeing, mountaineering and desert trekking adventures that will shape their professional lives.

The new and improved facility will expand the educational opportunities for WIU students and service opportunities to our local and surrounding communities. Horn Field Campus is a valuable asset for our campus, our community and our region. The construction of the Frank D. Lupton Outdoor Education Building is the right step for the future of outdoor education and leadership development at WIU!

Proposed Renderings

WIU Facilities Management created these conceptual drawings for rendering purposes only and are not a representation of the actual building.

Artist rendering of the inside of the proposed building Artist rendering of the front of the proposed building

Building Costs

Group of students climbing wall
Construct New 5,000 Square Foot Multi-Purpose Facility $635,000
Install New Septic System $20,400
Install Geothermal Heating and Cooling System $35,800
Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment and Technology $51,900
13 percent Contingency $106,900
GRAND TOTAL $850,000

Naming Opportunities

Students helping each other balance on platform at Horn Field
Multipurpose Staging Area $100,000
Classroom $50,000
Instructional Kitchen $35,000
Outdoor Patio $25,000

Giving Recognition Levels

Woman assisting child with identifying plants
Lupton Leader $50,000 and above
Expeditioner $25,000 - $49,999
Adventurer $10,000 - $24,999
Facilitator $5,000 - $9,999
Naturalist $1,000 - $4,999
Trailblazer Up to $999
“The sun is shining, the birds are singing, it’s a great day to be alive!” -Dr. Frank L. Lupton
Black and white photo of Dr. Frank Lupton at Horn Field Campus

The naming of the building after Doc Lupton is most fitting due to his leadership, legacy, and love for students, Horn Field Campus and the outdoors. Under Doc’s tenure at Western Illinois University and the Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration Department, he started ECOEE (Environmental Conservation Outdoor Education Expedition), co-founded the Wilderness Education Association and supervised and managed the utilization of Horn Field Campus. At the heart of all he did was connecting with students through the outdoors. This building will be a permanent reminder of an individual who made a difference in the lives of many, not just locally, but also nationally and internationally. Join us in honoring Doc Lupton and defining the future of Horn Field Campus. Inquiries are welcome.

Photo of Dr. Frank Lupton at Horn Field Campus


Suzanne Woodward, Director of Development
College of Education and Human Services
(309) 298-1690
Mindy Pheiffer, Director
Horn Field Campus
(309) 298-4676

Checks, payable to the WIU Foundation—HFC Building, can be mailed to: WIU Foundation, 303 Sherman Hall,1 University Circle, Macomb, IL 61455-1390.

You can also donate online:

“When I was a freshman, the Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration department was such a new and unknown experience. Then, I found HELP and Horn Field Campus, which taught me about leadership and personal challenge. Now, as a senior and president of HELP, I realize how much value and history Horn Field Campus carries. Horn Field Campus is a window to opportunities that allows students to create their future. It is a place of connection and home to many students, alumni and the community. As an alumni of ECOEE, RPTA, and Horn Field Campus, I will always give back because of the skills, knowledge and friendships I have gained.” -Maureen Fitzgerald ’17 Senior, ECOEE, RPTA