Henry Isaksen, one of Door County’s most well-known architects, appreciates historic buildings. He should, considering his office is one of them.
Originally built in 1896, the Italianate structure alternated between housing one and two families over the next three decades. The building has a somewhat dark history: its original owner and his two children died of tuberculosis, as did the doctor to whom the building was sold in 1904. Isaksen and his wife bought the house in 1990.
“We totally re-did the upstairs and converted that into two suites, which we operated as a ‘bed-no-breakfast’ as we called it, because we didn’t provide meals,” Isaksen says. They also added a central staircase, and moved the building to its current location on Madison Avenue, where they added a full basement and an addition off the back.
Isaksen, like the owners of countless other historic buildings around Door County, recognizes their importance.
“They deserve to be saved,” he says. “And the only way you can justify saving them is adaptive re-use.”