Additional Information: The school was about half its current size and didn't have a bell tower when originally built. The Moravians who founded Ephraim in 1853 believed strongly in educating their children and by 1854 they had established a local private school. When the town of Gibraltar was organized in 1857, Ephraim became a part of School District #2. Rev. Andreas Iverson, the Moravian church pastor in Ephraim, was named the first school superintendent of the town and donated land a log building for use as a school. This building, located at 9966 Moravia St., probably served as the school until 1868. During this time, however, the county school system was beginning to standardize and consolidate the educational system, including building graded schools, and to give towns greater control over schools. During that period, the Gibraltar District School #2 was built, reflecting the new standards of primary education. Previous to the building's construction, the Ephraim School, like others in the county, needed improvements. While visiting the school taught by C.S. Burt in Ephraim in the 1860s, the new county superintendent of schools reported that he found "good house furniture and methods of instruction, but very poor order. Miss Burt is too tender hearted for an unruly school". She was teaching 35 grade school students with an average age of seven years. In the late 1860s the Gibraltar schools taught approximately 150 students aged 4-20 out of a county total of 1,454 students. By 1869 the school located in Ephraim was one of 29 schools in the county. The school term lasted an average of 5 1/2 months each year. The superintendent's opinion was that "a great many improvements are required in our schoolhouses, which will be made as soon as the people are able. We live in a timbered county...sparsely settled by small farmers..." That same year, in a series of five "Educational Papers" printed in the county newspaper, the major problems of Door County schools were stated as being the lack of comfortable buildings with adequate heat and furnishings, no uniformity in text books and a lack of good teachers. In March 1869 a "township system" school law was passed by the Wisconsin legislature consolidating schools and giving towns more direct supervision in school affairs. It was hoped this would help standardize teaching methods and texts improve facilities, and equalize taxes. Ephraim was now part of a newly formed district that included Egg Harbor, Jacksonport, and Baileys Harbor. Five school buildings were located within the district. All this occurred when the one room frame building in Ephraim was either recently constructed or about to be built. Ephraim, then in existence for 16 years, had outgrown its first schoolhouse not only in size but in attitude. The school built in the late 1860s was well lit by windows and relatively spacious, meeting at least some of the recommendations of the county. The village, still a part of the Gibraltar school system, continued to use the one room school until well into the twentieth century when another one room school was built to replace it in 1948. Since it was restored by the Ephraim Foundation, a local non-profit organization that strives to preserve the historic character of Ephraim, in 1950 the school has been used as a museum and summer office space for the Peninsula Arts Association.
Bibliographic References: Iverson, A.M., "A Brief Account of the Activity (Its Commencement and Continuation Since 1849) of the Evangelical Moravian Church among the Scandinavians in Wisconsin". (Written between 1896-1899 and translated from the Norwegian by Jno. Boler, 1929).
Martin, Charles, History of Door County, Wisconsin, Together Biographies of Nearly 700 Families and Mention of 4,000 Persons (Sturgeon Bay, WI, Expositor Job Print, 1917).
Holand, Hjalmer Rued, History of Door County, Wisconsin, Vols. 1 and 2 (Chicago, S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1917).
Byfield, Betty, "Ephraim Foundation, Inc. A History 1949-1974" (Ephraim, WI 1974).
Door County Advocate 8/6/1868.
Door County Advocate 2/18/1869 and the next four issues.
Door County Advocate 3/25/1869.
"Ephraim Historic Walk" pamphlet (1983).
Kahlert, John, Early Door County Buildings and the People Who Built Them 1849-1910 (Baileys Harbor, WI, Meadow Lane Publishers, 1978).
Interview with Helen Sohns, 7/1984.
"Seventy Fifth Anniversary of Bethany Lutheran Church, Ephraim, Wisconsin, 1882-1957" pamphlet.
Martin, Charles, History of Door County, Wisconsin Together with Biographies of Nearly 700 Families and Mention of 4,000 Persons (Sturgeon Bay, WI: Expositor Job Print, 1881).