Little Red School House

Little Red Schoolhouse Museum

Little Red Schoolhouse Museum

A bit of the past comes alive when visitors enter the door of the Little Red Schoolhouse Museum, located in Gillett Park on Tomah's Superior Avenue. In December 1863, the voters of the district called a meeting for the purpose of building a schoolhouse. Two hundred dollars was set-aside for this purpose. Forty dollars was also aside for the teacher's wages and incidentals. The land was leased from the King family and purchased from the Hartwell Estate in 1899. Watermill School was built in 1864, on County Hwy. G, five miles northeast of Tomah. The name Watermill was given because of the locality of the school. It was built near Mill Creek, and a mill had been erected for the lumber industry. School was called to order twice a year, spring and fall sessions. The first teacher, Marie Nelson, was hired to teach for 3 months for $3.00 a week. Twenty-two days constituted a month in 1871. No scholar living outside the school district could attend without paying $1.50 tuition. The Watermill School was one of the first in the area to supply free textbooks, beginning in 1912. In 1914, an entry was added to the building, this is the only additon that occurred. The doors to Watermill School were closed in 1965. At this time, the city of Tomah purchased the school and moved it to it's present location. It was refurnished by the park board, painted red and set aside as a museum. In 1967, it was opened to visitors. An attendant is on duty to give a brief history of the school and to answer questions. Visitors are intrigued by its charm and enjoy a little history of yesteryears. The wood stove, desks, and other furnishings are all a part of the past. Many volumns of old books line the shelves. Maps and small items are on display in wall cases.

Hours of Operation

Memorial Day-Labor Day: Open Wednesday & Saturday: 1pm-4pm.


Take Tomah exit #41 off I-90. Travel North on Superior Avenue .9 mile to the set of traffic lights. At the lights continue straigh traveling North and go 3 blocks. Gillett Park will be on your right. Museum located in South-West corner of the park.

Runs Memorial Day through Labor Day

  • Yes

Free Admission

  • Yes

History/Heritage Type

  • Wisconsin History