Our History

In 1857-1858, after almost ten years of existence in a small frame schoolhouse, the people of Mayville decided to build a larger school to accommodate a growing population. A stone structure forty by sixty feet was erected, which was at that time one of the finest school buildings in the state. White limestone used for the school building came from local area stone quarries. Edward J. Foster, Ernst A. Murry, R.S. Chapman, and Miss Adra Reynolds were the first teachers in the new building.

In 1876, because of the growing population due to the success of the local iron smelting industry, a seventy­foot addition, nearly identical in design to the original building, was added on the south end. Local mason Friedrich Fischer, was the master builder. A new pillared portico and cupola gave it a grand statehouse appearance. The original school bell, donated by T. Sherin in 1857, was moved to the new tower and rang out for many years. This bell is now on display inside the building. In 1890, the school board decided to add steam heat to the school building. In 1937, as part of a WPA project, the area beneath the school was excavated for a full basement with two large rooms and indoor toilets. Mayville’s “White Limestone School” building was used as a public school for 121 years, from 1857-1964 and 1967-1981. From 1880-1898, the school served as both the grammar school and high school. The first high school principal was J.M. Turner. In 1883, after a three-year course of study, Emma Garling, Addie Williams, and Rudolph Sauerhering were the first graduates.

In 1968, due to some deterioration, the cupola was removed from the building. In 1997, 29 years later, a replica of the original 35 foot tall cupola was restored to the building. This restoration project was financed by Ted Bachhuber and was dedicated in his memory. Ted passed away March 3, 1997. In 2007, following a fund­raiser the museum replaced the plywood surrounding the cupola due to rotting wood. Further improvements were completed in 2017 when the louvered cupola panels and railings surrounding the base of the cupola were both replaced.

For a period of time after the school closed in 1981 Mayville Chamber of Commerce had their office located in the building. In March of 1982, the White Limestone School Restoration Corporation was formed. The Articles of Incorporation were signed by George Walk, president, Thomas Zuelsdorf, vice-president, Mary Ann Treichel, secretary, and Evaline Boeck, treasurer. In February of 2000, the name was officially changed to the “Mayville Limestone School Museum, Inc.”

The Limestone School Building has been listed on National Registry of Historic Places since 1976. In 2007 the museum proudly celebrated the 150th birthday of the building.