Historical Sites & Tours
Lovers of history and those curious about how the city and the Green Lake Country area were created can enjoy some of the following information. The Green Lake Country Visitors Bureau has also created a Heritage Toursim Guide that encompasses historic information and stories of the area. An online version of the document is available here
The 100, 200 and 300 blocks of Watson Street
The Ceresco Area
On the west end of Ripon, including the Long House on Warren Street, lies what is called the Ceresco area. On May 27, 1844, the first settlers of the Ripon area reached their destination. In a valley located between two hills, these settlers who were members of the Wisconsin Phalanx, founded a community. They called it Ceresco after the Roman goddess of the harvest, they constructed several commonly-owned dwellings called Long Houses, one of which still stands on its original site. In 1851 the villages of Ceresco and Ripon consolidated and incorperated as the city of Ripon in 1858.
The Octagon House
Located on the corner of Liberty and Locust Streets. It was built in 1867 and remodeled in the early 20th century an addition was constructed at this time. The home is privately owned by a family whose relatives purchased the home early in the 1900s.
Located on Watson Street and Ransom Street, the The Pickard House and the Lawson House hold some of the oldest pieces in the Historical Society's collection. The Lawson House is arranged with furnishings that are representative of the 1860s period. The Pickard House is the headquarters of the Society. In between the two buildings a period barn, holding more artifacts, and transporation articles are on display. Many of these artifacts are associated with the founders of Ripon.
Birthplace of the Republican Party
920-748-6764 – 303 Blackburn Street
This historic building, is the Birthplace of the Republican Party. 2013 marks the 159th anniversary of the historic meeting that took place on March 20, 1854. This was the first grass roots meeting during which members of three existing political parties locally met to form a new party called “Republican” and ignited a national movement. Visitors will also learn about the founding of Ripon and what school was like for children in the 1850's. The Schoolhouse offers a prairie educational experience in which elementary grade students participate in an 1850's school simulation. The simulation is available by prior arrangement only.
Includes 10 campus buildings and the First Congregational Church of Ripon, at 220 Ransom Street. Ripon College, founded in 1851, was converted from a college preparatory school to a four-year college in 1863. Today, Ripon's campus encompasses 250 acres and includes 25 buildings. The original three limestone buildings which witnessed the commencement of 1867 remain in use: East, Smith and West Halls. These, along with seven other campus buildings, were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Located on 217 Houston Street.
The John Scott Horner Home
Located on Scott Street.
Alice CallEn School
Found on 221 Spaulding Street.
Ripon also hosts the following Interpretive Sites:
- Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Park at the corner of Union and West Fond du Lac Streets.
- The Little White Schoolhouse (Birthplace of the Republican Party), 303 Blackburn Street.
920-748-5354 – 508 Watson Street
Three buildings with historic displays and archives. Open Houses only. Please call for available dates.
The Birthplace of the Republican Party
920-748-6764 – 305 Blackburn Street
This historic building, which has been declared a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places, is the Birthplace of the Republican Party. 2004 marks the 150th anniversary of the historic meeting that took place on March 20, 1854. This was the first grass roots meeting during which members of three existing political parties met to form a new party called “Republican” and ignited a national movement. Visitors will also learn about the founding of Ripon and what school was like for children in the 1800's. The Schoolhouse offers a prairie educational experience in which elementary grade students participate in an 1850's school simulation. The simulation is available by prior arrangement only.
Motorcoach, student and other groups can be accommodated with advance notice. Arrangements can also be made for step-on guided motorcoach tours of Ripon and area attractions.
*Ripon's Little White Schoolhouse Museum is open to the public May through September or by appointment. Please call for hours.
920-748-8325 – West Hall, Ripon College (Behind the Congregational Church on the corner of Ransom and State Streets)
The Ripon College Historical Museum displays and documents the history of Ripon College in photos and artifacts. The museum is open Monday – Friday, 8 am to Noon and 1 to 5 pm. With the exception of Alumni Weekend, when there is a large alumni exhibit, the museum is not open on weekends or during the summer without an appointment with the Archivist.
Historic Ripon Walking Tours
920-748-6764 – Ripon Chamber office, 127 Jefferson Street
Little White Schoolhouse, 303 Blackburn Street (Seasonal)
Experience Ripon's unique range of architectural styles, including well preserved Victorian “Painted Ladies”, and learn about the city's history while walking (or driving) these tours. Brochures and maps provided at the Ripon Chamber office or the Little White Schoolhouse Museum; you determine your own pace.
Kresge Little Theatre, East Hall, Ripon College (Behind the Congregational Church on the corner of Ransom and State Streets)
Pi Kappa Delta, the national collegiate forensics society, was founded at Ripon in 1913. The Hall of Fame recognizes notable members, including Spencer Tracy who was one of the society's early Ripon College members.
This is the first theatre in the empire of Ben Marcus, Wisconsin entrepreneur and philanthropist. The theatre continues to show current movies daily.
920-748-8791 – Ripon College West Campus, Union Street at Blossom
The C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts contains Demmer Recital Hall for concert performances, Benstead Theatre for performing arts and the Thomas E. Caestecker Wing for the Fine Arts.The CaesteckerWing includes a public art gallery for resident and guest artist exhibits and an outdoor sculpture garden. Two original paintings by Flemish master Sir Anthony Van Dyck are housed in the lobby of the building. Rotating student and guest artist exhibits are displayed in the lobby through the school year. Please contact Ripon College at 920-748-8791 for a schedule of exhibits and performances.
The Thrasher Opera House is located in beautiful Green Lake in a renovated historic building. It serves as a center to promote the arts, a community-gathering place and historic reminder. The building contains outstanding acoustics in a warming environment. Displaying a diverse array of Musical showcases Thrasher Opera House has something for everyone.
920-748-8175 – Ripon College, Elm Street
920-748-6160 – 120 Jefferson Street, Ripon