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Oakhill Correctional Institution (Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls)

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1931–1941. 5212 County Rd. M.

In 1875, a benevolent organization of women in Milwaukee founded the Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls, a reformatory. After the State of Wisconsin assumed responsibility for its operation, it constructed a new facility on this 405-acre farm in 1931. The site chosen, amid wooded hills and cultivated lands, was thought ideal for a model institution. Scattered around a looping access road are ten two-story stone dormitories. The imposing stone school building at the head of the expansive green once contained administrative offices, classrooms, a music room, a domestic science room, a beauty culture lab, a sewing room, and a combination gymnasium and auditorium. The Tudor Revival buildings have prominent front-facing gables, jerkinhead roofs, and arched entrance portals. The cottage-like dormitories reflected the Progressive-era idea that a homelike setting governed by trained, insightful surrogate parents would help the girls develop into responsible citizens. Cottages made it possible to segregate the girls by age and type of delinquency. While iron bars and room locks were absent, in keeping with a homelike environment, an electric signal indicated when a girl opened her door at night.

In 1976, the complex became a minimum-security correctional institution for men.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Oakhill Correctional Institution (Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls)", [Oregon, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 471-471.

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