The Golden Ring Folklore Center was originally opened in the summer of 1972 by Fritz & Mary Schuler. Fritz, an elementary school teacher in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, had decided his first love was teaching, performing and promoting American Traditional Folk Music. He and his wife Mary, an artist who had illustrated for many magazines, and had done the art work for a children’ s book, "Little Hawk the Story of a Morgan Horse" and had Pete Seeger choose one of her drawings for his biography "The Incomplete Folksinger" returned to their home town of Manitowoc and opened the Golden Ring Folklore Center as a teaching studio and retail folk music shop. The name had been selected from a wonderful folk album on Folk Legacy Records by a close knit group of friends who played music together who called themselves "the Golden Ring" with the meaning of a "golden ring of friends bound together by a common love of music" This idea appealed to the Schulers, so when they rented a wonderful old house and opened up the living room as a showroom for guitars, banjos, and mountain dulcimers as well as music accessories, folk music books and folk records, the name "Golden Ring Folklore Center" seemed perfect. They used the rest of the house for teaching studios and their home. And teaching they did, hundreds of folks have learned to play folk guitar, mountain dulcimer, and banjo at the Golden Ring.

Fritz also expanded his teaching through the University of Wisconsin Continuing Education and taught folk music classes for the next 25 years at UW campuses in Manitowoc, Fox Valley, Green Bay, Fond du Lac, and West Bend, teaching well over 2000 students the joy of folk guitar, banjo  and mountain dulcimer. He is still teaching at the Golden Ring today. Fritz also began performing soon after the Golden Ring opened, and performed nearly yearly at Milwaukee’s 19th Street Coffeehouse as well as festivals all over Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois. In 1994, Fritz and Mary, along with local guitar whiz Peter Pivonka performed as The Clipper City Stringband at the 1994 Chiba Seafest in  Kamogawa, Japan. Although escalating store duties has curtailed a lot of his performing, he still finds time for the occasional show.

The Schuler’s also continued to promote folk music with a series of folk concerts. In 1976 they teamed up with the University of Wisconsin - Manitowoc to bring legendary Chicago folk artist Art Thieme to Manitowoc. Through the years they’ve produced many concerts with the help of some fine folks in Manitowoc. First at the University, then at The Center of The Arts, and later at the First Presbyterian Church .The artists were a virtual Who’ s Who of folk at the time: Michael Cooney, Cindy Mangsen, Louis Killen, Sally Rogers, Bob Carlin, Ed Trickett, Rory Block, Dan Keding, Lui Collins, Bob Bovee & Gail Heil, Gerri Gribi; Claudia Schmidt, The Blue Flame Review, Kevin Roth, Don Lange, Jim Craig, Lee Murdock, Anne Hills, Leo Kretzner and many more.

By 1979 the Golden Ring Had overflowed its banks - guitars, picks, records everywhere. After a brief search they found a wonderful new location in a historic 100 year old building in downtown Manitowoc. Soon, the Golden Ring had a new home (and the Schuler’ s had a living room). The Golden Ring began to expand -- more books, records, guitars, banjos and mandolins. Mary was still busy with her art and teamed up with Kevin Roth to illustrate his "Anthology - a Dulcimer Song Book" for Centerstream Publications.


A Few years after the move a number of the other music stores in the city folded up their tents and the Golden Ring decided to expand to fill the void. Never losing sight of their original intent of being a great folk music shop, the store expanded to help the local musician --reeds and band supplies were added as well as orchestra supplies. The biggest change was the music book selection. Starting with the original stock of the best selection of folk songbooks and instruction books in Wisconsin, tons of other books were added - Piano - vocal Music- Piano instruction, songbooks, easy piano, orchestra, band books and much more.

About  the Golden Ring

A Slight name change took place to reflect these changes (Thanks to the suggestion of late Chicago Folksinger Art Thieme) and it was now known as "The Golden Ring Music & Folklore Center"

And once again the Golden Ring was out of room.

In 1990 the Golden Ring moved again, this time right around the corner (actually in the same building) to it’ s third location at 1001 Washington Street (The corner of 10th and Washington Street). The shop’ s inventory had increased dramatically since the move.  The music book selection expanded to gargantuan proportions as well as our wonderful selection of guitars, banjos, dulcimers, mandolins and more. The Milwaukee Journal - Sentinel's Dennis McCann happened to visit and wrote a wonderful article on us in September of 1999.   

We moved once again, to our fourth location, in October of 2001- moving just next door to our last shop (Yes, We're still on the corner of 10th and Washington Street) - making it our third move in the same building! -and some kind of weird record for sure! We now have twice the floor space to display our growing selection of books and instruments. 

From 2003  to 2013 we teamed up with Woodland Dunes to once again produce folk Concerts in the Manitowoc Area.  This great opportunity  offered us a chance to do two things, one -  develop a stage for local as well as regional performers to have a performance area with a great audience and to continue to bring in some of the nation's best folk performers.  Our Masters of Folk Series has included performances by  Peggy Seeger, Tom Paley. Geoff Muldaur, Lee Murdoch, Cindy Mangsen, Steve Gillette, Anne Hills, Claudia Schmidt and the like, has introduced  lots of new folks to some of the best in folk music.  In 2014 we  revived the Clipper City Folk Series  at the First Presbyterian Church for a short run.

We continue to strive to find the best instruments for the money for our customers, carefully set up and  adjust every one to play easily - To offer the best selection of music books in northeast Wisconsin,  so stop in and be amazed!

A Bit of History…… Music on the Lakeshore Since 1972