The great school conversion

Ozaukee Christian ready to transform former strip club into spiritual learning place

OZAUKEE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL Administrator Kris Austin stood near the stage and bar of the former Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club on Monday during a tour of the building. Schools officials closed on the purchase of the property last week. Photo by Sam Arendt

OCS OFFICIALS ERECTED a sign outside the Trenton business park soon after they closed on its purchase. Administrator Kris Austin says the property’s 40 acres offer numerous opportunities for expansion. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Standing in the dust-covered ruins of the former Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club in the Town of Trenton, where “gentlemen” once ogled naked women and indulged in behavior she would rather not contemplate, Kris Austin shared a vision Monday.

“We have had so many people praying for this and groups coming out here to do prayer walks,” she said. “One group told us that while they were praying they could hear children playing and laughing.”

The vision will become reality on Sept. 16 when Ozaukee Christian School, of which Austin is administrator, begins its 30th year at its new location.

School officials closed on the purchase of the 22,000-square-foot Trenton business park, including 40 surrounding acres, on July 24. 

The purchase price was about $600,000, Austin said.

Plans to purchase the site at 1204 Highway 33 were announced in March, but the closing was delayed as details were negotiated.

Now school officials have only about six weeks to get the site ready for students, teachers and staff, Austin said as she toured the site on Monday with Doris Schlenvogt, a Town of Port Washington resident who serves on the school’s board of directors and is its librarian.

OCS is a non-denominational Christian school founded in 1989 that has had several locations since it opened, including Portview Christian Center and Friedens Church in Port Washington. 

For the past 19 years, OCS has been located in the former Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Saukville, which was owned by what today is the St. John XXIII Catholic Parish. Last year, the parish sold the building to Redeemed Christian Church of God-Household of God, necessitating that OCS find a new home. 

Only the west portion of the new building will be used this year for classes, Austin said. That includes several office spaces, some of them unfinished, and a former Subway restaurant.

“We will continue renovating as we go,” she said.

The biggest challenge is remodeling the former strip club, with its leopard-print carpet and large granite-covered stage and bar.

Kahle Builders in New Berlin has been hired to renovate the site, but Austin said volunteers are being marshaled to do a lot of the work as well.

The club area also includes a large banquet hall, which eventually will be converted into a gym and chapel, and a kitchen, which comes equipped with a large walk-in freezer that Schlenvogt and Austin were especially excited over as it will be put to good use during the school’s annual apple pie sale.

The kitchen comes with a pizza oven, which coincides nicely with the school’s weekly Pizza Wednesday tradition that raises money for Christian missions.

It’s one of many coincidences, large and small, that Austin and Schlenvogt chalk up to answered prayers.

“We have an email prayer list of 174 people, and we know that goes beyond them because they take it back to their churches and prayer groups,” Austin said.

Gravel covers the floors of the unfinished spaces. Standing in one, Austin picked up a stone.

“In January, I picked up one of these little stones and kept it in my pocket. Every time I felt it in my pocket, I would say a little prayer,” Austin said.

Those answered prayers include the original asking price of about $1 million coming down to one that was more affordable.

“We can’t help but laugh, because it’s like this crazy story,” Schlenvogt said.

The fundraising continues, however.  School officials hope to raise $600,000 more to complete the renovation.

The square footage of the complex is about the same as the school’s current location in Saukville. But its 40 acres, which include a marsh behind the building, offer endless possibilities for expansion, athletic fields and nature studies.

“We can begin to re-imagine what we want to incorporate into the school,” Austin said.

“The sky’s the limit now,” said Schlenvogt, “It’s pretty exciting, actually.”

While the school is moving to Trenton, Schlenvogt said the Hidden Treasures resale shop, which supports the school, will remain in Port Washington.

“It’s such a great location for us,” she said.

It’s possible the name of the school could change. “We will look  at that over the next 12 to 18 months,” Austin said.

Looking ahead to Sept. 16, when the school holds its first chapel service, Schlenvogt said, “It’s going to be such a joyous day.” 

The school will hold an open house to discuss the move and answer questions at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Calvary Church, 1110 E. Decorah Rd, West Bend.

For more information, call 284-6980 or email




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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