Yore Place

...in Egg Harbor

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Rock Island Boathouse-Great Hall - #1506

Located off of Washington Island’s northeast tip. Rock Island was the site of the earliest of Door County’s settlements. It also hosted Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse. The island had an interesting development in the early 1900’s from which some of the magnificent stone work still stands.   Shown is the Boathouse-Great Hall built by Chester Thordarson, a Chicago inventor who developed the electrical transformer.  In 1910 Chester bought 661 Rock Island acres plus four smaller tracts of property for a total cost of $5,735.  The government retained the lighthouse property.  Over the years Chester worked at developing a retreat for his family and friends that included some magnificent stone buildings and fences as well as log cabins, support buildings and beautiful gardens including a greenhouse.

In the 1920's arose Chester's most impressive feature, the magnificent Icelandic style Boathouse-Great Hall.  The Great Hall housed Thordarson's huge book collection which the University of Wisconsin later gained possession of.  He had the hall's oversized wood furniture carved with Icelandic features to reflect the design of the building.  The building's design displayed massive Icelandic features; the vaulted ceiling had a open beam structure, the high walls used just as high windows to let in the natural light, five people could be seated within the fireplace.  It was reported to cost $250,000 to build the Boathouse-Great Hall.

Chester died in 1945 and his family could not continue his adventure.   In 1962 the State of Wisconsin purchased the Thordarson property for $175,000.  Too difficult and expensive to maintain, the wood structures were burned and the rest of the property became Rock Island State Park.  Today the park is a backpack camping park with no vehicle transportation.  The Boathouse-Great Hall, as well as the lighthouse, remain open for touring

Original watercolor by Papa Giz – 10" x 14" - Phone or e-mail for pricing.


Yore Place in Egg Harbor