In 1926, Studebaker Corporation purchased several farmsteads to construct a proving ground. They built a clubhouse, 8 miles of roadway, and engineering building, and garages on the property. Studebaker also started a major reforestation project with the Indiana Forestry Department providing the trees. Ten years later an addition 16,000 trees were planted by the Civilian Conservation Corp. It took them six weeks to plant the 6-inch seedling, over half of which were used to design a sign that spelled out “STUDEBAKER” on the grounds.
The clubhouse was constructed expressly for the accommodation and recreation of the Studebaker proving ground employees. They could eat there, relax during their off hours, stay there in inclement weather, and even board there. It is the sole residential-looking building amidst the industrial garages and engineering buildings.
With the advent of the Depression, the activity on the grounds changed. Studebaker closed the facility except for the test drives. In 1943 the U. S Army used the area for military testing. In 1945, the facility was returned to Studebaker who proceeded to reopen the complex. That return to services was short-lived. From 1948-1961 the proving grounds were vacant. The president of Studebaker had the clubhouse remodeled for his residence in 1961 but by 1963 Studebaker closed and so did the proving grounds. Bendix Corporation purchased the land and donated 175 acres to the Saint Joseph County parks and Recreation Board, including the area with the clubhouse and sign. In 1967, the clubhouse was converted to a nature center and offices for the Bendix Woods County Park.