Our Founders

The Ark Stairway Entrance Wall Mural by Vicky Lynn Ramsay 2012


The Ark came into existence in May of 2012 when the historic church on the corner of Washington and Jefferson streets in the city of Viroqua was put up for sale by the then owners, Believers Fellowship.  The building was built in 1897 by First Congregationalists, passed onto the Church of Christ in 1935 who then passed it on to the Believers Fellowship in 1981. 

Present at the first walk through were Chris Cox, Adam Fogelson, KJ Jakobson, Anna Rodriguez, and Frank Wildingway.  The following Saturday, while the above were holding an exploratory meeting into the feasibility of converting the church into a community arts center, word came that a local philanthropist wanted to gift the group with a check for the price of the building.

That action precipitated naming the founding group as “Artists and Friends.”  Subsequently, the building, in June 2012, was rechristened:  “The Ark”.  For seven years Frank Wildingway, with the help of the co-founders and then many others, led The Ark on its journey.  Then in 2019 The Ark landed.  Frank retired as captain and The Ark was renamed The Commons.

Frank continues to lead the Wild Peace Sangha and plans to perform in the theater on occasion.  Chris Cox has returned to the theater assisting the Players and KJ Jakobson has returned as a core volunteer.