Historic Home: Fairview School Stops Traffic

Filmed by: Cole Lovejoy and Edited by: Emma Winge


Woodhull Construction Company out of Poplar, WI was tasked with relocating Fairview School from Port Wing, WI to the Oulu Cultural and Heritage Center.

Cole Lovejoy, Production Editor

The old Fairview school, long located in Port Wing, WI is slated, once again to be moved. Originally built in 1915, and located on Fairview road in the town of Tripp, it was moved to Port Wing in 1952 to serve as the music room for the old South Shore School building.  Upon the building and completion of the current school building, the original school was torn down. The Fairview building was saved and relocated a few blocks away to serve as a law office on Main Street for some time. Now it sits empty and unused.

This year the Oulu Heritage Center acquired the building and is moving the building – for the fourth time – to the Heritage Center grounds in Oulu.  There, it will serve once again as a school, being used for the Oulu Heritage Center’s summer school classes.  With its new purpose, it got a little TLC from third grade instructor Mrs. Suo and her class prior to the move. “My 3rd and 4th grade students are very excited about our future visits to the Fairview School.  The schoolhouse was located right across the field from our school, so we could see it clearly from our classroom window.  We walked up and visited it several times.  We plan on visiting the Heritage Center in May for a tour and preview of the summer school classes.  My goal is to be able to bring the students out to learn at the Center several times per year.  It will be fun to plan lessons and activities for the students to experience through the changing seasons of the year.”

On Monday, January 25, 2016, the school house was lifted off the ground and placed on blocks.  The workers needed to install new floor joists in the one hundred year old building.  During that week, the floor joists were changed out and the building was reinforced and supported for the trip south.

On Tuesday, February 16, it began the trip south.  At 9:45am, it was hauled from its location on Washington Avenue to right in front of the Port Wing Town Hall to ensure that the straps and bracing for the move were intact. At 10:00, the move started for real.  The Bayfield County Sheriff’s Department led the way, followed by Bayfield Electric Cooperative who were tasked with lifting the 21 power lines to allow the building to move down the highway.  The move attracted plenty of interest and crews, including WDIO, KBJR 6, The Duluth News Tribune and the Ashland Daily Press.

The Sheriff’s department redirected traffic to stopping places along the route for the school to ride past. There were lots of bystanders taking pictures and cheering as the school rumbled past.  The moving company – Woodhull Construction Company – made good time, traveling an average of 10 miles an hour for the whole trip. They drove down county highways A and B, as well as Muskeg road.

Upon arrival to the Oulu Culture and Heritage Center, Woodhull began to get the school into place on its new foundation. It took a lot of adjusting, but after about half an hour, the school was directly over the new foundation.  There was a cheer as the crew said it was “good.”

With the heavy work complete, the news crews who were on scene began interviewing some alumni on the Fairview school.

According to Erika Suo, a member of the Oulu Historical Society and member of the Board of Directors of the Oulu Cultural and Heritage Center, “we are teaching with the theme of bringing history to life.  We will be teaching a week of local history, a week of Wisconsin history and a week of reading and writing historical fiction.  Our hope is that the one-room schoolhouse will be ready for use by the time our first class is held in the end of June.  I am absolutely thrilled that the Fairview School has been moved to the Heritage Center and will be the future home of our summer school classes.  It will give our students the very unique opportunity of learning in an authentic one-room school.  The building holds lots of history for our school district.  I get great vibes from being inside of it.  I will be putting together lessons that replicate the teaching methods used in one-room schools.  My students and I will be working to research and develop these methods.”

In addition to the many man hours of physically preparing and actually moving a building, there were also countless hours spent planning, coordinating and collaborating to make the move a reality.  According to Suo, the Oulu Historical Society and the Oulu Cultural and Heritage Center Board of Directors joined forces “to develop and operate the Heritage Center.”  As a member of both institutions for several years, she has been instrumental in making the move happen.  “The members of our organizations are very committed to preserving the history and heritage of our region.  One of our most important goals has been to create engaging educational programs for our local youth.  When our idea for creating classes on local history for children was shared with the South Shore School District Administrator, Clendon Gustafson, he asked if we would like to provide our programming as a summer school offering on behalf of the district.  Our partnership with South Shore gave us the opportunity to get our classes up and running.  I think it’s been a real win-win relationship for both the district and the Heritage Center.  Providing the classes allows us to bring in some revenue for developing and operating the Center.  As a non-profit organization, we are dependent on continually raising funds through donations and grants.  All of the work and operations of the Center are done by volunteers.”

Enrollment in summer school classes is capped at 30 students per week with priority going to students who live in the district.