Maxwelton Braes Lodge Sold

Maxwelton Braes Lodge has new owners, and at least one of them has visions of keeping it as a family business for a long time.

On April 13, Frank Kowalkowski and his wife, Julie, along with Barb and Dr. Nami Zarvan, all of Green Bay, completed the purchase of the 93-year-old lodge, the tennis and pickleball courts, and acreage to the south for $1.1 million. State property records show the assessed value of the lodge portion – with its large bar, dining and banquet facilities, and 11 hotel rooms – had been just under $750,000.

Seller and Door County resident Bill Andersen said he had operated the lodge since 2013 and is glad that it went to a buyer who has a great interest in its past and future.

“We love the place; we just were not doing it justice,” Andersen said this week. “I have not met Frank, but from what I can tell, he loves the history as we did and will take it to the next level.” 

The Maxwelton Braes property was divided up several years ago, and Andersen has not sold the one-story condo units that overlook the separate, but adjacent golf course’s 16th and 18th fairways.

Kowalkowski said he “just fell in love with the place” and its historical nature about 30 years ago during a law firm’s annual business retreat. He is an attorney who specializes in construction law, and his wife is a retired Green Bay schools speech therapist. Nami Zarvan is a Green Bay physician, and the families became close while their children were involved in activities while growing up together. The Kowalkowskis and Zarvans both have second homes in Door County, and Kowalkowski said he hopes he can spend most weekends and some remote-work days at the lodge.

The purchase closing by the new owners, Maxwelton Lodge LLC, came just two days before Maxwelton Braes Golf Course – which surrounds the resort – had its season-opening golf day for the first time under the ownership of retired NFL defensive back and Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy. 

Kowalkowski said that as of April 18, he had not met Murphy, and that he and his partners were working on the lodge purchase before they learned Murphy was involved in the purchase of the golf course.

Kowalkowski said the hotel will open May 15, and the lodge already has online advertising and promotion for banquet and wedding facility availability this year and especially in 2024. He said they’re looking for someone to run the restaurant and bar, or for a restaurant business to occupy the facility this year, and while making the lodge the best it can be this year, they’ll think about any possible reconfigurations for the future.

Kowalkowski said that maybe someday, one or more of his three daughters, ages 21, 24 and 27, might be interested in getting involved in the business. All have strong ties to Door County, having spent summers here and holding summer jobs.

Northern Door County realtor Steve Jacobs completed the deal with Kowalkowski, who also has a real estate license.

Maxwelton Braes Lodge was built during the Great Depression, putting many local people to work. The original owner and developer, Michael McArdle, was a Baileys Harbor native who worked his way up to serve as president of Sunbeam Corporation. In addition to building the golf course and lodge, he provided $35,000 for constructing the Baileys Harbor town hall and equipping and maintaining a public library in the hall.  

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