WARRENS — A pair of local couples have purchased the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center.
The Cranberry Museum Inc. announced this Thursday it sold the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center building, gift shop and ice cream parlor to Warrens residents Brian and Stephanie Knoepker and Jim and Nodji Van Wychen.
The Knoepkers and Van Wychens will operate the Discovery Center in partnership with the Cranberry Museum Inc. board of directors, which will lease the lower level museum space.
“We are thrilled to step into this role as owners of the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center and do our part to ensure this wonderful attraction and educational resource will be available for years to come,” said Nodji Van Wychen. “We look forward to a great partnership with the Cranberry Museum, Inc. and are excited to help educate visitors about Wisconsin’s rich cranberry heritage.”
Cranberry Museum, Inc. officials said the transition will allow the museum to focus its resources on its core mission — educating visitors about Wisconsin’s cranberry industry.
The 4,800 square-foot Cranberry Discovery Center is located in the historic Union Cranberry Warehouse at 204 Main St. in Warrens. The original warehouse was built in 1900, and after an $800,000 renovation project, the Discovery Center opened in 2004.
The Discovery Center is comprised of a museum featuring educational exhibits, historic artifacts and videos as well as a gift shop with local cranberry products and a vintage ice cream parlor. The facility draws an average of 10,000 visitors each year.
The Van Wychens and Knoepkers have roots in the Warrens community.
Jim and Nodji Van Wychen are third-generation cranberry growers at Wetherby Cranberry Company, and Nodji Van Wychen served on the board of directors for the Discovery Center.
Brian and Stephanie Knoepker also are involved in the community. Brian worked on a local cranberry marsh, was the manager of a cranberry receiving station and for 10 years has been director of public works with the village of Warrens. Stephanie moved to Warrens in 1994 for her first elementary teaching position and was employed by the Tomah Area School District for 23 years.
The Cranberry Discovery Center originated as the Cranberry Expo, a museum and gift shop opened in 1989 by the Clinton and Ellen Potter family on their cranberry marsh east of Warrens. The museum moved to its present location in 2004 and was renamed the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center under management of the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association.
The Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center museum and gift shop grand opening for the summer season will be Saturday, June 1. Museum admission is $5 and $3 for children. For more information, visit discovercranberries.com.