© 2017 Gibraltar Historical Association.

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In the Beginning

 

Officially established in 1857, early settlers recognized the immense potential of the Door County area and took advantage of Fish Creek’s ample water access and wooded landscape.

 

In the mid-19th century, Asa Thorpe, considered the village founder, settled in a log cabin on Green Bay’s shoreline. Thorpe purchased much of the surrounding land, began a lumbering business and constructed the first pier on the waterfront. Thorpe’s entrepreneurial spirit led to the opening of a tourist hotel, and soon visitors from across the Midwest discovered for themselves the beauty of Fish Creek.

 

Dr. Hermann Welcker, another early Fish Creek resident, opened a resort in the area modeled after a European spa. The luxurious stay, coupled with the breath-taking natural appeal of Fish Creek, made patrons long to return to the area. It didn’t take long for seasonal visitors to begin building their own homes on Cottage Row. Today, a leisurely walk down the streets of Fish Creek allows guests to be completely immersed in the rich history of the area. The authenticity of the community is unmistakable.

 

In the early 1900’s, the streets of Fish Creek bustled with activity.  Fish Creek had begun as a fishing and logging village, but was destined to become a vacation center.  By 1910 a number of hotels and cottages dotted the village. Various ships plied the waters of Green Bay and delivered tourists to their summer retreat where the air was fresh and cool.  The Carolina was but one of these ships and its arrival in early summer was always reason for great excitement. Merchants readied their storefronts with fresh coats of paint and filled their shelves with supplies. The last curtain was pressed and hung, welcoming guests to the summer resorts.  Women and children of the town joined the menfolk at the dock to greet the ship.  Wagons and buggies lined the waterfront waiting to take guests to their respective hotels.  Another summer had begun.

 

How did these guests spend their time, you ask? Welcker’s Resort sponsored daily hikes through what is now Peninsula State Park. Hotels provided horse and buggies for an afternoon ride down a country lane. Bath houses lined the shoreline inviting all to a swim in the cool waters.

 

Sailing regattas became a Sunday afternoon delight along with games of croquet and shuffleboard on green lawns. Bridge parties held upstairs in the Maple Tree Café allowed the ladies time to socialize with newfound friends. Church suppers, quilting bees, baseball games, and ice cream socials all added to summer afternoons.  After dinner many guests watched sunsets or perhaps listened to someone play the piano at Welcker’s Casino.