The Little Plum school opened in 1899 in Frankfort, Pepin County, replacing the original school built in 1866. This school was built at the cost of $800. It was formerly known as Little Plum School District #2. There is an old 1880s church on the same plot of land. Together they are known as Little Plum Place.
The Little Plum Lutheran Church was located on a lot adjoining the school.
The church’s congregation was hard-pressed to maintain the church and the school. Debra Fisher and Ricky Riggins bought it on December 29, 2017. The two live in the church building and have been working to preserve the school. The Lutheran church dissolved in 2017.
In talking with Debra, I learned the distinction between preserving and restoring. She noted electricity was installed in the school in 1936. As a result, Debra and Ricky are preserving the school and not restoring it.
Restoring it would require them to rip out the electricity, flooring, etc., that reflected the school as it was back in the day, in 1899. They do not intend to do that. Instead, they have been working since 2018 to preserve what they have. Preserving it means they will take it back to 1936 or thereabouts.
The Columns newsletter of the Pepin County Historical Society reported in September 2019 that Debra and Ricky had to first transform the church into suitable living accommodations, which took about six months. They then turned their attention to fixing up the school.
The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) has said the Little Plum Lutheran Church was organized with 68 charter members. It built the church in 1879 and held its first service there on Christmas Day. The schools in the area consolidated in 1957. As a result, the Church bought the school for $250. WHS notes, further,
“ The church was raised from its original foundation in 1964; the men of the congregation dug out a basement, hand mixed and poured the cement for the block foundation and floor. Running water was put into the church in 1975.”
One might ask why is this named “Little Plum?” As far as I can tell, French Traders surveyed the area in 1857, in the area of Plum Creek. Little Plum Creek runs on the north side of the church, the valley is known as Little Plum Valley.
It was so named because there were many plum trees in the area. A town grew up slowly and was named Plum City. It is about eight miles northwest of Little Plum Place. It exists to this day, and I assume the people settling where they built this church and school decided to call it “Little Plum.”