The site of a shuttered strip club in Wisconsin is being transformed into "a place of life and light and hope and joy" as it eventually becomes a Christian school, part of which will be opened later this month.
The former Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen's Club, located in a strip mall in Trenton, roughly 40 miles north of Milwaukee, will soon open as the Ozaukee Christian School. Officials purchased the strip mall this year and plan to make what used to be a strip club into a place for education — in "a story only God could write."
"It's been a long two years to get there, but it's been a very rewarding two years," David Swartz, school board president, told WISN in March.
The school acknowledged the transformation from strip club to educational home was a "journey unlike anything we could have imagined" in a press release on its site. School officials worked with Spearmint Rhino — a chain located in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia — to buy the property and, after months of working together, Ozaukee signed an offer.
Kris Austin, the school's administrator, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this year that while the club's strip pole was gone, you could at the time "see the beautiful leopard carpet in the club that we're going to rip up."
Swartz said the unlikely scenario is "a story that you'd hear in the Bible."
“Women were turned into objects," he told WISN. "To say now we're going to transfer that place into a place where boys and girls are raised to be our next leaders with character, right? That [they] are following God."
Officials for the school, a non-denominational Christian school founded in 1990, said the strip mall will include classrooms, a cafeteria and a multi-purpose room, initially allowing for the enrollment of 125 students, which they said is double their current enrollment. In the future, the school plans to building a gymnasium with a stage and a new classroom wing for 250 students.
"We just think God is in the business of redemption. He redeems souls, and he can redeem and transform a building for his purposes," Austin said of the situation. "We just really pray for all the people who were there, both men and women, that they would know Jesus."
The school's first day of classes is Sept. 16.