A plan to consolidate schools

risking the loss of another piece of Oshkosh history!

In November 2020, our community voted to pass a $107 million referendum implementing the first phase of the district's school consolidation plan. This included monies for constructing the new Vel Phillips Middle School and rebuilding Webster Stanley Elementary. To be clear, the referendum did not say the existing Merrill School would be demolished.

Over the next year the district commissioned plans and bid out the construction of the new middle school such that by April of 2022, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the new site. After staying silent about the existing building up until this point, on May 11, the district administrators revealed their new plan to the Board of Education whereby the existing building would be knocked down so that a new track could be built.

We believe there is an alternative solution that provides necessary green space for students yet preserves the most historic portion of the school for future generations to utilize and celebrate its history!

Click on the following YouTube link below to watch the discussion of the new plan with the Oshkosh board of education members.

Note this total conversation lasts roughly 30 minutes in total.

This video also includes Superintendent Davis talk about the plan to use East Hall park for one of the large indoor athletic facilities. CLICK HERE to check it out.

District Administration plan presented May 11, 2022

Benefits of Historic Preservation

Here are just a few reasons other communities choose to save historic buildings:

Community Placemaking

We celebrate the skills and talents of our predecessors and foster a common bond with our neighbors when we save historic buildings.

Environmentally Friendly

Sustainability is at the heart of preservation ensuring less waste in the landfill helping preserve our planet for future generations.

Economic Impact

Preservation provides immediate jobs while studies show positive tourism income when communities commit to saving what is unique.


Learning is enriched when students can experience first-hand the choices and priorities our forefather made about the built environment.

Community Needs

Often historic schools find new life providing affordable housing which is badly needed in our community.

Why is Merrill School Historic?

Click on the images below to read more. (Videos Coming Soon)

By 1930, Oshkosh Schools were again experiencing significant overcrowding. The School Board solicited ideas for constructing a new Junior High School adjacent to the existing Merrill building. Architect Henry Auler proposed a balance of style and function by connecting the two buildings with a shared-use gymnasium. The idea won out, and C.R. Meyer was selected to undertake the transformation of the existing structure while adding on the new art-deco styled addition.

Video Coming Soon

Henry Auler began his career as an apprentice of Master Achitect William Waters. Auler later opened his own office and later took on partners to create the firm of Auler, Jensen and Brown. Other noted works that are celebrated in Oshkosh include the Daily Northwestern building, the Eagels Club (now The Howard), The Masonic Temple, and Roosevelt School. Many of Auler's works are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Video Coming Soon

Streamlined pilasters separate bands of windows while moderne layered and molded piers adorn the entrances on the exterior. These same influences are carried throughout the interior passage and hallways. Low-profile multi-shouldered arched pasageways are found in the 1932 addition. This same profile then adorns the hallway ceilings. The gymnasium shares this profile in the ornate brickwork above the stage, while similar pilasters frame both sides. It is these ornate interior features that set this building apart from many historical buildings.

Video Coming Soon

For over 121 years, this building has served to provide an environment for the education over 75,000 youth in our community. Through the efforts of hundreds of teachers our children were provided with the building blocks to go on to become productive members of society. The countless memories created within these grounds cement the standing of a beloved school within this community.

Video Coming Soon

It turns out that the school district apparently agrees the building is historic! Read their school description Here.

Recent Local Historic Preservation Projects

In recent years, many of Oshkosh's historic treasures have been given new life.

What is our proposal then?

Any plan that keeps the historic section intact!

First, let us be clear. We are not proposing to keep the entire building. It is questionable whether the most recent additions could be considered historic. We would be content saving the original 1901 and 1932 sections of the building. This leaves over 3.3 acres of green space for the middle school student recreational needs.

With this plan, we propose to put the track in East Hall park. This still leaves green space on this parcel consistent with the wishes of the neighborhood. Then we turn the football / soccer field sideways and push it up. This makes room to preserve the historic section of the original Merrill school.

With this plan, the school will have use of a track and two football / soccer fields. In addition, the district could save up to $500K by not having to demo this section of the historic school. The district might also get another $400K from a developer purchasing the historic building. Less refuse will be taken to the landfill, and the building could get a second life.

Click on the following YouTube link below to watch the discussion of the new plan with the Oshkosh board of education members.

Note this total conversation lasts roughly 30 minutes in total.

Have an idea?

Please share any ideas that could preserve this historic masterpiece.

An alternative solution

that provides the middle school students a practice track.

One could question whether the middle school students need a full-sized track or if a smaller one would be sufficient. Our second potential solution would propose putting a 200 meter track in the open space above the preserved historic school. Students could practice on this track and have their meets at one of the two full-sized tracks located at each high school. Alternatively, the administration had proposed a full-sized track at Traeger school, where ample space is available. This Traeger track could serve as the middle school competition venue.

This plan leaves East hall park alone. However, district administrators have stated their intent to fill this later with an indoor athletic facility or aquatic center, which with the requisite parking needs, will likely provide little green space. Watch Here.

Again the district could save on demolition cost and would have access to the proceeds from the sale of the historic building. Less refuse will be taken to the landfill, and the building could get a second life.

Merrill School Achievements

by the numbers

121+ Years of Service
75K+ Estimated total pupils
1+ NBA Alumni
$500K+ Potential Demo Savings

How can you help?

We would be thrilled if you would help advocate for saving this unique local treasure. Ways you can help include:

Tell your friends and neighbors.
Volunteer at the farmer's market.
Join our Facebook group.
Email the board of education.
Display one of our awesome signs.

Questions? Contact us

Want a Yard Sign?

Click the button to go to the Yard Sign order page.


Feel free to get in touch with us and ask us for a yard sign or give us a novel idea to save the school.

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