Wisconsin has produced many influential writers and served as the mental and emotional source for many literary bodies of work. In Edgerton, Wisconsin, the tourist with the most bookish of bents can visit the landmark boyhood home and museum of Sterling North, world-famous author of Rascal, So Dear to my Heart, The Wolfling, and 28 other works.
Native Wisconsinite Sterling North grew up in the once thriving tobacco town of Edgerton. In 1963 he completed the book Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era. Set in 1917 when he was only 11 years old, the best-selling book chronicles a boy’s fondness for and friendship with a pet raccoon in the fictitious “Brailsford Junction.”
The home, which is open from April 5 (on Sunday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. through December 20) may be toured by appointment. Refurbished to its 1917 setting and furnished with period antiques, the museum showcases North’s desk, typewriter, photos, books and many family artifacts and memorabilia. The renovated barn is also part of the tour. It opened in 1999, and it has been utilized by several area civic and cultural groups as a conduit for educational programs for school kids.
History of Sterling North Boyhood Home
The locally-organized Sterling North Society purchased the home in 1992 for $65,000, and later hired architects Engsburg and Anderson to retrofit it to centuries past. The structure was erected in 1894 by North’s grandfather, Thomas North; Sterling and his Father, D.W. North, moved into the house in 1914.
Architects recreated as much as was doable from the days when North wrote Rascal: non-original walls were razed; woodwork and molding removed; windowpanes replaced; doorways widened. Exterior porches were restructured, floors sanded and refinished, walls plastered and painted, and light fixtures installed. All total, the complete restoration project cost $122,000.
Sterling North Boyhood Home, Edgerton, Wisconsin
The Sterling North Boyhood Home, 409 West Rollin Street, Edgerton, Wisconsin, is used as a scholarly center housing the complete collection of North’s books and poetry. North’s accomplishments are featured in the upstairs museum room with glass-encased memorabilia, including the typewriter on which he produced Rascal and The Wolfling. Other notable artifacts include North’s desk, his father’s typewriter, and his brother Herschel’s W.W.I uniform.
One room of the home is dedicated to Rascal, North’s memoirs about nurturing a raccoon, published in 1963. The book, which has sold more than two and one-half million copies since, has been translated into 18 other languages. Rascal was even crafted into a Walt Disney film in 1969. It became a 52-episode cartoon in Japan in 1977, establishing itself as one of the country’s most popular cartoon adaptations of a children’s book ever. Visitors from Japan have gifted the room with an interesting assortment of Japanese Rascal souvenirs.