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.