Every summer there comes a chance for visitors and residents to get a tour of some of the finest homes and gardens in Door County. This inside peek allows all to share in beautiful architecture, interior design, scenic views and striking gardens that are hidden around the peninsula. This summer the Door County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary will present its 49th Annual House and Garden Walk. Featuring five spectacular Door County properties, four homes and a one-acre garden, the event promises to follow in the outstanding tradition of years past.
In the summer of 1960, Door County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary member Delores Allen organized the first touring event. It was known as the Door County Parade of Homes for that year as well as the following year. But due to an annual event in the Milwaukee area also being called the Parade of Homes, in the summer of 1962 the name was officially changed to the Door County House and Garden Walk.
Member and historian for the auxiliary, Jennifer Corbisier, notes, “Even though there was a stir over the name, the walk was a popular summer destination event from the beginning, with 1,200 tickets sold for the second year’s walk and the auxiliary donating over $2,000 to the hospital that year. The walk has continued to be a successful event, drawing visitors from all over the Midwest. Many of our groups are repeat attendees who schedule this weekend in the county primarily so they can participate in the tour. During last year’s walk we raised in excess of $35,000 which was donated to the hospital,” she says. The enthusiasm shown by participants has helped sustain the annual event.
Every year the proceeds from the walk have been donated to Door County Memorial Hospital to assist with various construction and renovation projects, such as the state-of-the-art Cancer Center. The funds raised during this year’s event on July 28th will go toward the five-year, $250,000 pledge the auxiliary has made to the hospital expansion project and will specifically benefit the Inpatient Services and Emergency Department addition.
Over the years the House and Garden Walk has meandered through properties up and down the peninsula but has consistently featured five properties each year. These properties have varied widely and have included homes and gardens all over the county. The tour has also gone beyond the “house and garden” designation and featured architecturally and historically interesting buildings in the area. “One of our most popular years was when the walk featured Boynton Chapel on the Bjِrklunden property. Both the volunteers who were giving the tours and tour attendees enjoyed learning about the chapel and its history and came away with special memories,” recalls Jennifer Corbisier. “Many of the homes we have featured on the water or with water views have been very popular and we have also found that many of the bed and breakfast’s in the area have been a large draw.” The Miller Art Center in downtown Sturgeon Bay, Sunshine House, and even a yacht have also been highlights of past walks.
Auxiliary member and co-chairperson of this year’s walk, Denise Haen, gives much of the credit for the ongoing success of the walk to the volunteers who coordinate and work the event. Many of the volunteers have been involved for a number of years. “Many of our members are present at each property all day. They discover all the points of interest about the property, conduct tours, answer questions and assist with everything from parking to giving directions.” Auxiliary members also provide ideas for which properties to feature each year. Word of mouth or personal relationships often lead to a featured property.
Next summer the auxiliary will celebrate the 50th Annual Door County House and Garden Walk. Planning for the event is already underway and organizers are hoping to feature some or all of the original five properties that were on display in the summer of 1960. Many of the homes have been renovated or rebuilt entirely, adding new interest to the historical significance of each property.
On display this summer are four homes – two located in the Sturgeon Bay area, one in Egg Harbor, and one in Fish Creek – as well as a one-acre garden in Egg Harbor.
Thomas “Cap” & Mary Wulf, 1127 Cove Rd., Sturgeon Bay
The Wulf home was built in 2004 by Van’s Custom Builders and Mary Wulf was the interior designer. The 4,300 square-foot home is a Cape Craftsman (a combination of the Craftsman and Cape Cod styles). The property features a gorgeous view of the channel and Bay View Bridge. Visitors will also enjoy the beautiful gardens around the home that were established in 2004 by Meissner Landscape. The gardens encompass a large swimming pool overlooking the water. Make sure to pause on the flagstone front porch and enjoy the swing placed for viewing the bay.
Mike & Gere Warnecke, 6587 Bay Shore Dr., Sturgeon Bay
The home was constructed in 2003 by WE Builders, John Wiese building contractor, and architect Henry Isaksen Architects. Interior design is by Gere Warnecke of LML Interiors. The Italian country style home welcomes visitors into its approximately 5,500 square feet. One highlight is the large and long lower foyer which showcases the Warneckes’ art collection. The surrounding gardens were established in 2003 and 2004 and were designed to use local plants in a European country plan, sweeping almost to the water’s edge. Visitors are also encouraged to enjoy the surrounding woods via the walking paths both in front and in the rear of the home.
The Mueller home was built in 2001 by DeLeers Construction and Bill and JoAnn assisted in the design of the home along with DeLeers and Mary Kay Tressler. Visitors will be treated to a tour of the main level of this open concept traditional home which delights with a unique mix of contemporary and classic styles. There are French, English and African antiques and artwork on display. The large gardens were established in 2002 and will also be available for viewing. Bill and JoAnn do the gardening themselves, both planting and maintenance. Beautiful vistas of the bay can be fully appreciated from both the home and gardens.
Bob & Paula Keller, 7680 Brooks Ln., Egg Harbor
The one-acre gardens will be highlighted at this location. Established in 2000, the gardens have a lovely Victorian feel with the Kellers’ favorite color palate of pinks, purples, blues, and whites. The location of the lower gardens gives visitors spectacular views, with the waters of the bay down below. One of the lively sturgeons from “Around the Bay” resides here. Winding stone paths provide a charming stroll. The upper deck provides picturesque views of the gardens and water. It is filled with multiple flowering pots and baskets, which were all created by Paula Keller.
The Kopischke residence was built in 2007 by Dan Kiehnau of Egg Harbor. It was a commercial blueprint modified by the owners and the interior design is by Kنrin Simonson Kopischke. The 3,773 square-foot home is crafted in an open concept, exposed ranch style with Mission and Arts & Crafts influences. Visitors will notice the incorporation of many local materials including cedar, maple, limestone, and river rock. The focus on indigenous materials also highlights the natural and organic shapes used in the transitions from room to room, creating organic movement rather than more traditional angles and lines. Strong Arts & Crafts and Scandinavian design influences are seen throughout. The home is located on one and one-half acres of natural forest. The setting is required by covenant to remain completely natural and native to the surrounding area.
The Door County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary House and Garden Walk will be held on July 28, 2009. The chance to appreciate Door County’s hidden gems will be a full day event and walk participants will have access to all the properties from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. Tickets are a $25 donation and are available at the Door County Visitor Bureau, as well as at each home on the day of the event. None of the properties is handicapped accessible. Only exterior photography of the homes and gardens is allowed and no children under 12 are allowed in the homes. All questions regarding the walk can be directed to the auxiliary at (920) 746-1071 or [email protected]