BLUE MOUNDS (WKOW) -- The future is up in the air for a place where the past meets the present. Many of us have visited Little Norway in Blue Mounds, but no one has over the last year.
This once-popular tourist attraction is a little piece of Norway in southern Wisconsin. Tucked into the rolling hills of Blue Mounds, it's a beautiful place frozen in time. Owner Scott Winner says, "For 75 years, people came to Little Norway to see how Wisconsin got on its feet and to see how these immigrants started to live and the tools and the artifacts and the art they brought with them. And that's what we've preserved here for 75 years."
Scott's family has owned and operated Little Norway that entire time. "It was always hard to promote it in a billboard or an article, but once people came, it was amazing for them and most people were moved and the magic that's down here and times forgotten."
Perhaps as time has gone on, Little Norway itself has been forgotten a bit. Scott had to close last season and hasn't opened since. "In a lot of ways we kept going on like it was going to be open again, cleaning the artifacts, displaying the artifacts, getting the grounds ready and doing a lot of maintenance on the buildings and so there was a hope that if we kept it maintained there would be someone who could continue the Little Norway story. (Reporter: Is there still hope you can do that?) There's always hope."
As Scott takes us on a tour of the grounds, where literally millions have been before, we see why he holds out hope the public will be able to see this once again. From the stabbur houses to the sod-roofed cabin, it's a unique lesson Norwegian architecture. But the crown jewel is The Norway Building, originally built in Norway and brought to the U.S. for the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, then relocated to Wisconsin in 1935. "My hope is that The Norway Building can always be here because it looks like it's in Norway. We can't find another setting that can match it in any way. Hope it'll remain part of the area, It's on the National Register of Historic Places. And my hope is that it can still be viewed still by the public. Over 2 million people have seen it on this site."
Scott would like the entire Little Norway collection to stay intact, but he knows that may not happen and he's okay with that. "When I told my mother we'd have to close, she just said, 'Weren't we so lucky to do this? And when you close, the other 3 generations will put their hands on yours and we'll close it all together.'"
Some of the 7,000 artifacts Scott's family owns may end up with other historical societies or museums in Mt. Horeb or Stoughton. Scott hopes The Norway Building stays on that site and the public can one day view it again.
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