Little Norway may live on

Foundations express interest in keeping site open
Little Norway may live on

A piece of Wisconsin history could live on despite bleak financial news earlier this year.

In May, WISC-TV reported that Little Norway, located just outside Mount Horeb, was likely in its last season of operation.

But after an incredible summer and some interest from foundations and historical societies, the site celebrating Norwegian heritage may stay open.

Little Norway serves as a teaching tool for visitors to learn about a culture that settled in the area decades and decades ago.

“It’s really been an exciting summer. It was amazing how many people poured in, and the first thing they would say to me or the staff is, ‘This can’t close,'” said Scott Winner, owner of Little Norway.

Little Norway has been losing money for years, and Winner said in May that it was likely the last season Little Norway would be open.

But he said it turned out that many didn’t want to see Little Norway close.

“Every month, we’ve had a record attendance, and of course I’ve gotten questions of, ‘Why don’t you do an encore year?’ And the truth of the matter is, even though we’ve had a great, great summer, we will lose money this year,” Winner said.


Even with the busloads of people who kept coming this summer, Winner said he needed help to keep the site going. He said it appears help has come.

“Museum directors have been here; historical society directors have been here. Foundations have been here,” Winner said.

Winner said foundations are seriously considering taking over the historic site. He said the talks have been so positive that he’s confident Little Norway will be open next year.

“Two-hundred-seventy acres in Dane County is worth a lot of money, but that’s not my goal,” Winner said.

Winner said it’s not about making money but rather keeping the Norwegian culture in the area alive and keeping Little Norway where it belongs.

“It’s a big part of Wisconsin. As Preservation magazine said, it is a Wisconsin architectural wonder, and it is,” Winner said.

Winner said that while meeting with the foundations has been very exciting, it has also been exciting to hear, on a daily basis, from people who saw WISC-TV’s original story and wanted to see Little Norway stay open.

Winner said the outpouring of support for Little Norway has been great, and he’s looking forward to having a final answer about the site’s future in a few months.