Communities

Communities

Whether it is a home, land, condominium, or commercial property, Door County Inc.'s professional staff can assist you. We service the entire Door County, Wisconsin real estate market, including

Southern Door | Sturgeon Bay | Jacksonport | Baileys Harbor | Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, Jacksonport, Baileys Harbor, Fish Creek
Ephraim | Sister Bay | Ellison Bay / Gills Rock | Washington Island | Area Links

 

Southern Door Information

Southern Door County retains a rural, small-town charm that lets visitors know they are leaving their urban stress behind them. Rolling fields are dotted with distinctive red brick Belgian farmhouses. The Brussels and Namur communities host the country's largest concentration of Belgians, earning Southern Door a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The bayside shoreline features some of the best spring and summer smallmouth bass fishing in the Midwest and superb ice fishing in the winter.

Sturgeon Bay Information

Sturgeon Bay, named Wisconsin's friendliest small town, is the county seat and the only city on the peninsula. Settled in 1835, its economy originally was based on lumbering. That changed, however, when the canal linking Green Bay and Lake Michigan opened to shipping in 1882.

Today, Sturgeon Bay has a charming downtown area that is home to unique shops, galleries, fine restaurants, and meticulously restored bed and breakfast inns. Greater Sturgeon Bay includes a fully staffed hospital, two excellent golf courses and a regional airport. Sturgeon Bay's waterfront is in the process of a major face-lift. A spectacular new Door County Maritime Museum, Stone Harbor Resort & Conference Center and other developments have revitalized the waterfront. More improvements are under way. Located in the public library, the Miller Art Center treats visitors to the works of fine artists from across the country, the state, the region, and the county. Consider getting a visitors' library card while you're there. Available at libraries throughout the county, this little card gives visitors full use of library services.

Potawatomi State Park, located on the waters of Sturgeon Bay, offers vacationers biking and hiking trails and groomed cross-country ski and snowmobile trails. Be sure to stop at the observation tower for a view of Sawyer Harbor that will take your breath away. If your idea of a vacation includes fishing, you'll love the waters of Sturgeon Bay. Trophy-size catches of walleye, northern pike, lake trout and salmon are the rule, not the exception. Area guides can put you right over a shipwreck to fish for cantankerous smallmouth bass. A wide variety of fresh produce and handmade crafts are the big attractions of Sturgeon Bay's farmers' market. Held downtown every Saturday morning in late June through October, the popular market has a festive air that captivates shoppers.

For more information, contact the Sturgeon Bay Main Street Office (920) 743-6246.

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Jacksonport Information

In 1869, Jacksonport became the last of Door County's communities to be formally organized. Settled in 1848 as a lumber town, the community was named after Andrew Jackson, a logger and prominent business owner in the community.

Today this quiet little community offers visitors old-fashioned hospitality and a relaxing break from the pressures of everyday life. Whitefish Dunes State Park, located just south of Jacksonport on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan, is one of the jewels of Wisconsin's state parks system. A large expanse of sandy beach and the highest dunes in the state lure visitors to the park. Once there, the hiking, biking and cross-country ski trails create serene memories that keep vacationers coming back for more. Cave Point County Park is immediately adjacent to Whitefish Dunes State Park. Bring your camera and imagination to capture the wild beauty of Lake Michigan pounding against the park's limestone sea caves. The din of waves crashing against rock and moving through the caves is unforgettable. Jacksonport boasts one of the county's biggest and most popular festivals, Maifest. Music, ethnic foods, a wide variety of crafters and artisans, and numerous other inviting activities make May fun and Jacksonport synonymous for people from all over the United States.

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Baileys Harbor Information

In October 1848, a cargo ship loaded with lumber and carrying several passengers left Racine, bound for Detroit. That evening the ship, commanded by Capt. Justin Bailey, encountered a violent storm. Buffeted by high winds and heavy rain, the ship pitched and rolled in the angry Lake Michigan waters. Concerned for his passengers and cargo, Bailey kept watch for a place in which to ride out the storm. Late that night he found a quiet cove where he could drop anchor until the storm passed and his journey could be resumed. That act of nature assured Capt. Justin Bailey a measure of immortality; the village that sprung up there the following year was called Baileys Harbor.

Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, the area has thousands of acres of wetlands and wilderness, much of it preserved as part of Björklunden, Toft's Point and the Mud Lake Wildlife Area. Birding and hiking are at their very best at the Ridges Sanctuary at Baileys Harbor. The Ridges, a privately held wildflower preserve, includes the Baileys Harbor Rangelight and Lighthouse, and a beautiful sand beach that's open to the public. The Baileys Harbor business district is situated on the lake and includes many fine shops, galleries and restaurants. Charter fishing boats leave here daily carrying anglers in search of a memorable day on Lake Michigan.

For more information, contact the Baileys Harbor Business Association (year-round) at (920) 839-2366. Click here for the Baileys Harbor Business Association website.

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Egg Harbor Information

There are several conflicting stories about how Egg Harbor got its name. One of the favorites, however, has to do with an incident that allegedly occurred in 1825, 28 years before the village was founded and 36 years before it gained official status. As the story goes, six boats owned by Pierce Roulette, a French fur trader, were headed for Mackinac Island. Along with other supplies, the boats carried a large number of eggs. One day, Commodore Roulette ordered the paddlers to put ashore for lunch in a sheltered cove.

Traditionally, the commodore's boat led the others. This time, however, another boat took the lead. The commodore ordered the other boat to fall back, but the paddlers refused. Then, the story goes, the crew of Roulette's boat began throwing eggs at the other boat. That boat's crew retaliated and soon both boats and their crews were covered with raw eggs.

However the village came by its name, it is today a popular destination for visitors longing for simpler times. A leisurely stroll downtown delights the eye with shops, galleries and restaurants located in lovingly restored historic buildings and in newer buildings that capture the village's old Wisconsin charm. Located just outside of Egg Harbor is the Birch Creek Music Center, a nationally acclaimed music academy. Evening concerts in the barn at Birch Creek are a tradition for Door County's residents and visitors alike. In the spring, Egg Harbor glows with the colors of daffodils, tulips and other flowers. In October, business owners and residents deck their properties with pumpkins, scarecrows and other fall decorations for the annual Pumpkin Patch Festival, a favorite weekend with visitors. Egg Harbor's charm and beauty will linger in your mind and bring you back again and again.

For more information, contact the Egg Harbor Business Association (May through October) at (920) 868-3717.

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Fish Creek Information

Sturgeon Bay, Door County's first community, was settled by Increase Claflin in 1835. Nine years later, following a frightening confrontation between his son-in-law and local Indians, Claflin moved his family north to Fish Creek. Although Claflin was the first settler, Asa Thorp is regarded as the man who founded the village. By 1853 Thorp owned much of the land in the Fish Creek area and had begun building a pier from which he could sell cord wood to Lake Michigan steamers.

The beauty that held Claflin and Thorp in thrall claims today's visitors to Fish Creek as well. The entrance to Peninsula State Park is located in the village. Within its 3,700 acres is located Claflin Point, the site of the settler's cabin. The breathtaking view of the bay from Weborg Point makes it easy to see why he chose to live here. For those who prefer getting away from crowds, a bike ride through the park is just the ticket for relaxation. The park, with its sand beaches and nature trails, also is popular with campers. There are well-kept private campgrounds located near the village too.

Over the years, Fish Creek has become the heart of the county's artistic life. Here you'll find Peninsula Players, the country's oldest professional summer theater; The Peninsula Music Festival; American Folklore Theatre; Peninsula Art School; Peninsula Arts Theater, and the Door Community Auditorium, which plays host to dozens of well-known artists and shows each year. A wide variety of shops, galleries and restaurants draws visitors back year after year. After a fine dinner, take a stroll to the marina and check out the pleasure boats moored there, or sit on the city beach and watch as the sun paints the sky red and gold. Fish Creek will call you back, season to season, year after year.

For more information, contact the Fish Creek Civic Association (year-round) at (920) 868-2316 or 1-800-577-1880 for a brochure.

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Ephraim Information

In the spring of 1853, 40 Norwegian Moravians, led by the Rev. Andrew Iverson, settled the area around Eagle Harbor. The hardy pioneers named their community Ephraim, a biblical term that means fruitful. Modern villagers, mindful of Ephraim's rich heritage, have preserved a good deal of its history. Many buildings still reflect the elegantly simple architecture painted white that is a hallmark of Moravian tradition.

Exhibits at the Anderson Barn Museum give visitors and residents a glimpse into a vibrant past. Anderson Dock, where tourists in the 1890s disembarked from Lake Michigan steamers, now is home to the Hardy Gallery. Area artists and special events make the Hardy a must-see on vacation itineraries.

Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin's largest and most popular state park, rests on Ephraim's west shore. Golfers playing at Peninsula's excellent course may have trouble keeping their minds on the game, so beautiful is the scenery. June means Fyr Bal, a Scandinavian tradition welcoming summer. Bonfires, great food, music and art all are part of the fun. Be sure and catch the Midsummer's Music concert- chamber music on the water. July brings a regatta with boats decked out in their finest and most colorful sails. When the ice is at its best, a community of ice-fishing shanties springs up on Eagle Harbor and cross-country skiing at Peninsula State Park becomes a passion. Ephraim truly is a village for all seasons.

For more information, contact the Ephraim Information Center (May through October) at (920) 854-4989.

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Sister Bay Information

Sister Bay, Door County's largest community north of Sturgeon Bay, was settled in 1857 by Norwegian immigrants. Originally two communities, Big Sister Bay and Little Sister Bay, the Village of Sister Bay was formally created in 1912. From 1859 until 1912 both communities were governed by the Town of Liberty Grove.

In those early days, Sister Bay's economy was built on the lumber shipping business. Today, as in other Door County communities, Sister Bay's economy is tourism driven. Known for its excellent shopping and fine dining, Sister Bay provides visitors by boat a safe harbor convenient to downtown.

Sister Bay's shoreline is nothing short of magnificent. There is a fine sand beach in the heart of downtown, as well as a wonderfully developed waterfront park system that plays host to weekly outdoor concerts in the summer. Sister Bay takes front stage in October when it pulls out all the stops for its acclaimed Fall Festival. Parades, fireworks, and a huge arts and crafts fair are but a few of the reasons visitors from all over the country come to Sister Bay for this annual event.

For more information, contact the Sister Bay Information Center (May through October) at (920) 854-2812.

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Ellison Bay / Gills Rock Information

Ellison Bay was founded in 1866 by Johan Berndt Eliason, who came to America from Denmark. In 1848, Eliason reached Buffalo, New York, where he bought a sizeable piece of land in Door County through the U.S. government. The U.S. Land Office later reported the land belonged to "John Ellison" and that the cove on the property was called "Ellison Bay". As in the past, Mother Nature has something special in store for visitors traveling north of Sister Bay: a breathtaking vista of Ellison Bay from the crest of a 200-foot-high escarpment. The sight is particularly beautiful when fall wears its fancy dress.

Visitors to Ellison Bay will find numerous potters and other artisans plying their trade. North of Ellison Bay's quaint business district lies The Clearing, a school of the arts, literature and ecology. The Clearing's campus is set amid a pristine woodland high above the shores of Green Bay. Nearby Newport State Park, a semi-wilderness area, has within its boundaries secluded hiking and cross-country ski trails. For more information, contact the Top-of-the-Thumb Association (May through October) at (920) 854-5448.

Gills Rock was originally known as "Hedgehog Harbor," the name given it by Washington Island fisherman and boat builder Amos Lovejoy. In 1855, Lovejoy decided to winter his sloop on the shores of a cove he liked to fish. Over that winter, a family of hedgehogs, also known as porcupines, moved on board. When Lovejoy launched his sloop again in spring, he didn't notice the numerous holes the hedgehogs had chewed in the hull. The boat began taking on water through those holes and Lovejoy was forced to abandon the sloop and come ashore. The cove was "Hedgehog Harbor" until 1870 when it and the settlement on it were renamed Gills Rock in honor of Elias Gill, a prominent lumberer.

At the very tip of the Door County peninsula lies Gills Rock, where a strong tradition of commercial fishing continues today. Gills Rock offers divers the opportunity to explore the many shipwrecks in and around Death's Door. The local maritime museum houses many artifacts from these wrecks and chronicles the fishing industry.Ferries to Washington Island depart regularly from Gills Rock and nearby Northport Pier.

For more information, contact the Top-of-the-Thumb Association (May through October) at (920) 854-5448.

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Washington Island Information

Washington Island is the largest of Door County's islands. In 1815, the island was named "Colonel John Miller Island" after the leader of the first white men to set foot on the island. Later settlers changed the name to honor George Washington. Many of those later settlers were from Iceland, and today Washington Island is the oldest Icelandic community in the United States. The island lies northeast of the peninsula just beyond the straits of Death's Door. This name was given to the six-mile-wide passage between Lake Michigan and Green Bay by Native Americans. The name was translated by French explorers as "Porte des Morts" because the treacherous currents and unpredictable wave action claimed war canoes and schooners alike.

Today, divers can explore many of the shipwrecks. Ferries from the mainland, with their views of spectacular bluffs and rocky shores, make the crossing of Death's Door a pleasure for today's passengers. Once on the island, many visitors take in its leisurely pace and pastoral beauty while bicycling. Others prefer to take their cars, rent mopeds or take a guided tour.
Washington Island offers visitors museums, galleries, full-service marinas, shops, lodging and a golf course.

For more information, contact the Washington Island Chamber of Commerce at (920) 847-2179.

14 SIGHTS TO SEE ON WASHINGTON ISLAND

  1. Detroit Harbor (ferry dock) - When you arrive, there are several eating establishments, gift shops, a bike and moped rental and tour operators.
  2. Den Norsk Grenda (two buildings with grass roofs), they were shipped from Telemark Norway. One is a gift shop; the other is a bookshop.
  3. Business District on Main Road - Insurance Company, the pre-school, the American Legion and Mann's Store (grocery store for over 90 years). Also restaurants, a book store and the newspaper office (Washington Island Observer). Continuing a mile north is Briesemeister's Gallery & Farm (1895), featuring fine arts and sheep.
  4. Art & Nature Center - Housed in the Island's old school building (1904). Island artists and artisans display their creations; some offered for sale to the public. In addition to the art area, the Center has exhibits depicting the natural and cultural history of the Island. The Center is also used for art classes and sponsors a week-long music festival in the summer.
  5. Little Lake (at the end of Little Lake Road) Jens Jacobsen's home and the Jacobsen Museum. Maritime and other artifacts are displayed. Step through the gate and take the path to the lake. Jens Jacobsen's home has been restored to its original appearance; the Jacobsen Museum has many artifacts gathered to celebrate the Island's history.
  6. Schoolhouse Beach - A sheltered harbor with smooth stone beach. The beach got its name from the log schoolhouse built there in 1850. There is a stiff fine for anyone removing stones from the beach.
  7. Farm Museum - Farm buildings from various locations on the Island are assembled here along with old-time agricultural implements. Wednesdays in summer are family fun days with demonstrations of 19th century crafts along with other activities for children. Small animals and pictures of yesteryear are on display.
  8. Mountain Park - After the 184 climb step to the top of the tower, several benches are provided for your convenience. From the top of the tower on a clear day you can see beautiful Island vistas, Escanaba, MI, also Rock and St. Martin islands.
  9. Jackson Harbor - The town dock, a park and a maritime museum. The town dock is the scene of the remaining commercial fishing fleet and also provides dock space for private boats in the summer. The park has trails for enjoying the wildflowers as you hike through the "ridges" natural area. Maritime Museum has artifacts displayed inside and outside the two old fishing sheds.
  10. Rock Island State Park - A one-mile cruise aboard the "Karfi" from Jackson Harbor to Thordarson Boat House on Rock Island. The island has marked hiking trails, a sand swimming beach, camping and picnic areas. Also Potawatomie Light, the oldest lighthouse on Lake Michigan, built in 1837.
  11. Trinity Church - First church building was completed in 1930, destroyed by fire in 1947 and rebuilt at same location in 1950. A ship model hangs from the ceiling (a custom in some Scandinavian churches).
  12. East Side Park - the Island's only county park. It has a sand beach and a picnic area. A short distance offshore you can see Hog Island, a National Wildlife Refuge.
  13. Sand Dunes Public Beach - A pleasant place to picnic and swim.
  14. Red Barn - The site of weekly entertainment programs in the summer.

Contact Information

Door County Realty, Inc.
4027 Main Street, PO. Box 340
Fish Creek WI 54212
(920) 868-3245
(800) 962-4161
Fax: (920) 868-2269
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