‘A great opportunity to increase visibility’: Little White Schoolhouse will move to Ripon’s west side | News



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Ripon’s Little White Schoolhouse, inset, will move from its location on Blackburn Street to the former location of Marine Credit Union, 1074 West Fond du Lac St., in the coming months so it can have more space.




For the first time in more than 50 years, Ripon’s iconic Little White Schoolhouse will move.

The schoolhouse has seen several moves in the city of Ripon, but will move to 1074 West Fond du Lac St., the former location of Marine Credit Union, in the coming months.

The parcel of property the museum will move to is owned by Ripon native Justin Krueger, who eyed a development on Ripon’s west side back in 2020 and is the owner of the 300 Club in Green Lake.

The move is designed to make the Little White Schoolhouse a better tourism destination as it will be easily accessible from Highway 23.

That’s according to a press release from the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, which owns and operates the Little White Schoolhouse Museum and is in the process of moving into the historic Carnegie Library.

The chamber says the move could take place in October, but has the potential to be delayed based on the availability of the parties needed for the project.

“This is a great opportunity to increase visibility and expand all that the Little White Schoolhouse has to offer,” Ripon Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mandy Kimes said. “It is incredible that this historic building has been preserved for almost 170 years and this new location will help preserve the building for years to come.”



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The relocation of Ripon’s Little White Schoolhouse is aimed at boosting tourism.




The Little White Schoolhouse has been designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1974, and has moved multiple times in its history.

It was first located on the intersection of Blackburn, Thorne, and East Fond du Lac streets, where it served as a schoolhouse until 1860. When the school outgrew the building, it was remodeled to be a private home.

In 1908, the Little White Schoolhouse was moved to Ripon College — where it occupied three different locations — before moving to its current location, 305 Blackburn St., in 1951.

The Little White Schoolhouse is known as the Birthplace of the Republican Party as it is the site where Whigs, Free Soilers and Democrats gathered in 1854 to create a new political party to combat the expansion of slavery into American territories.

“Ripon is special because we have a special story; it’s not a story about a national political party, it’s a story about a group of people who saw a great wrong in their nation, decided to get together and do something about it,” Ripon College Professor Emeritus of History Bill Wooley said. “… They succeeded and changed history. In my mind, it’s the best story any little town in the country could have.”

The chamber believes moving the building to Ripon’s west side will enable it to sit further back from the road than its current location, as well as offer space to create a “visitor center” for the museum and allow for better parking.

“The property expands back into a wooded area and will truly enhance and expand all that the museum offers its guests,” Kimes said. “The possibilities are endless.

“This will reignite the Little White Schoolhouse as a tourist attraction for Ripon just in time for the 170th anniversary of that eventful meeting on March 20, 1854.”

The Little White Schoolhouse’s move also comes in time for the 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, which Kimes hopes will help bring tourism to Ripon.

“This move is going to be so good for our community,” she said.

Krueger is proud of Ripon’s history as a “quaint, tight-knit community,” but said moving the Little White Schoolhouse will help to promote growth.



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This picture shows some of the 20,000 people who attended a number of Ripon events in 1954 to commemorate the 100th-anniversary celebration of the founding of the Republican Party.




“While we don’t have any desire to change that small-town feeling, we do want to encourage the right kind of growth,” he said. “We want to share the charm and history of our community.

“Hopefully, the new space will bring in some additional tour groups that will benefit the local businesses.”

In addition, the Little White Schoolhouse board of directors expressed gratitude to Krueger for providing the opportunity to expand Ripon’s nationally recognized museum.

Board president Joan Karsten said the chamber owns “a few feet around the current building,” which has restricted growth and expansion of the museum.

“Even though we are in the beginning stages of planning in regards to the new building, we recognize the many advantages to the location on the west side of Highway 23,” Karsten said. “It will bring better visibility and tourism to all of Ripon.

“This property will allow the Little White Schoolhouse to be a greater tourist destination, in conjunction with the Ripon Chamber, Main Street and [Ripon] Historical Society, for all to enjoy for years to come.”



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The Little White Schoolhouse has been a tourist destination for decades.




Kimes added that the Ripon Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to receive such a generous opportunity to keep Ripon’s “special story” alive and the expansion possibilities that the new property will provide.

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