Wisconsin city moving GOP birthplace building across town

Apr 18, 2023, 5:55 AM | Updated: 9:06 am

RIPON, Wis. (AP) — Officials in Ripon, Wisconsin, have moved the building where the Republican Party is said to have been founded across town to boost visibility as conservatives descend on the state for the GOP national convention next year.

Workers moved the Little White Schoolhouse to a different location Monday, WLUK-TV reported.

The Ripon Chamber of Commerce owns the building. The chamber’s executive director, Mandy Kimes, told the television station the new location will increase visibility and access as visitors arrive in the state for the GOP national convention in Milwaukee next summer. Ripon is about 85 miles (136 kilometers) northwest of Milwaukee.

“We really want to keep the Little White Schoolhouse as unaltered as possible,” Kimes said. “And so having this other location … we’re going to be able to turn that into a visitors center where people can come in, have an experience, learn what they’re about to see and really enjoy it.”

The building has been moved six times in its history. Monday’s move was the first since 1951.

Timothy Bachleitner, chairman of the Fond du Lac County Republican Party, said he’s disappointed with the move.

“This national treasure has now been moved right in the midst of an Ace Hardware, a vape/smoke shop instead of being able to stroll one block away and see the buildings where the men who founded the party have their names adorned on them,” he said.

The Wisconsin Historical Society sent a letter to local, state and national officials March 20 warning that the National Historic Landmark and National Register of Historic Places would remove the schoolhouse from landmark status if it was moved.

According to the Ripon Historical Society, the schoolhouse was built in 1853. The following year, several men who opposed slavery met there and created the Republican Party. The building was later remodeled into a private home. Former Wisconsin Gov. George Beck once lived in it.

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