Our History

On October 1, 1926, a group of twenty people met at the court house to consider organizing a historical society. All but one agreed it should be done. Thus, the Door County Historical Society began. Since its inception, the society has been keeping the story of Door County’s past alive.

Early projects included creating monuments and historical markers including the totem pole in Peninsula State Park, a monument to the pioneers who lost their lives during the Peshtigo Fire of 1871, and the marker where it was thought Robert LaSalle landed in Clay Banks.

The society advocated the establishment of the county park system and in 1938 helped raise the money to build the Door County Historical Museum located at 18 N. 4th Avenue in Sturgeon Bay.

The Eagle Bluff Light Station Museum was a major project of the society. Restoration and furnishing the lighthouse began in 1960 and took four years. Since that time, the society has maintained and offered tours through the lighthouse and living quarters during the summer and fall months.

In 1993, the Door County Historical Society leased a corner of the Crossroads at Big Creek to create The Heritage Village at Big Creek and moved the first building, a Fish House, to the site. Since then, work has progressed. Now six buildings are completed and the seventh is being restored.

In a visioning retreat in 2009, the Board of Directors of the Door County Historical Society revised their mission statement to: The Door County Historical Society strives to collect, maintain, and share the history and heritage of Door County through preservation, education and programming. Though it was not stated in these words, this has been the society’s mission from the beginning.

In 2009, the Door County Historical Society leased the Hanson Norwegian Homestead and surrounding land from Crossroads. It is located beside Big Creek on Utah Street in Sturgeon Bay. First floor restoration is complete.

After four years of volunteer labor, the Madden Tool Museum opened to the public in August 2018.

Through the years, members of the Door County Historical Society have offered programs, lectures, and information. They have provided grants for research and the publication of books, for the development of historical videos, and made generous donations to help build the Door County Maritime Museum.