The 115-Year Heritage of the Whistling Swan

Penni Schewe

Right now the Whistling Swan is identified as 1 of the county’s greatest eating places. An personal eating space seats 56 friends who occur for an creative, at any time-evolving menu, carefully curated wine and beer list, and cozy confines. 

Considering that 2003 it has been less than the stewardship of owners Monthly bill and Michelle Tressler and manager Scott Zimmerman, who also manages the 7 visitor rooms upstairs. 

Despite the fact that the historical past of the kitchen area goes back only a number of many years, rather speaking, the constructing has a extended and storied heritage: eight entrepreneurs, four names and a life in two counties, with a journey throughout the ice that has grow to be the stuff of Door County legend.

Dr. Henry Welcker constructed the Henriette – what would turn into the White Gull Inn – in Fish Creek in 1896. With space for 150 visitors in the principal creating and cottages, he soon equaled E.C. Thorp as one particular of the greatest summer season-resort operators in the county.

Welcker’s early attendees had been usually German “people of refinement” from Milwaukee. He modeled his software soon after European health and fitness spas of the Victorian era, the place friends have been essential to abide by a plan that incorporated physical exercise, hearty foods, rest and cultural stimulation.

Delivering a specific location for cultural experiences for his company was the cause for the doctor’s buy of what arrived to be recognized as Dr. Welcker’s On line casino. At first called the Lumberman’s Lodge, it was created in Marinette in 1889. All-around 1906, the whole hotel was disassembled and brought across the Environmentally friendly Bay winter season ice to Fish Creek. Exquisite furnishings, Asian rugs and a grand piano arrived from Sheboygan and Milwaukee. 

Girls had a stitching home and a card area for actively playing bridge or mah-jongg gentlemen liked billiards and youngsters performed ping-pong in the basement. There was a library, a audio room and a area for producing letters. Visitor rooms ended up on the upper ground.

The Excellent Corridor on the major ground was applied for literary programs, dancing functions, performs starring company or traveling to actors, and concert events by qualified musicians these kinds of as the famed opera singer Madame Shumann-Heink. It was also the web site of repeated gatherings to raise cash for the Purple Cross during WWI and women’s club meetings, wherever “dainty refreshments” have been served. A dining corridor across the road from the on line casino served friends from both equally Welcker homes, seating 120 at a time. Bathtub residences and a laundry have been positioned on the shore.

Soon after the Welckers’ deaths in the 1920s, Dr. Welcker’s niece Martha Fahr ran the vacation resort till her death in 1939, when the property was break up up and offered to a variety of people today. It took a long time to settle the estate because the proceeds were to go to people today in Germany, and conversation was difficult due to the fact of the war. Ruth and Foster Olson then ran the on line casino for a 12 months or so.

From 1945 until 1966, Sam and Mary Haskell operated the casino, renamed Peninsula Lodge, together with the cottages at the Henriette, referred to collectively as Maple Crest. In the course of the 1950s, the lodge advertised classical music with “a bite or a complete meal.” While the Haskells did not personal the lodge or the cottages, they did make a modest lodge nearby – now the Fish Creek Motel. Herman Krause owned the lodge from 1951 until 1956, when the demand for a area and 3 foods was $7 for each day.

Roy and Mary Cornelia Porter from Park Ridge, Illinois, acquired it from Krause in January 1956 and marketed a general public eating space with an American or European program menu. Jacqualyn Hurlburt bought the lodge in 1959 and offered it to brothers James and Jerald Newman in July 1973.

Considerably less than a yr later, Carl Hart, the Gibraltar city clerk and his spouse, Ellie, a instructor at Gibraltar, acquired the lodge and renamed it Very pleased Mary. They had previously owned the Blue Willow (now The Cookery), but have been cautioned that it was a hard time to be starting up a new undertaking that was completely dependent on tourists. 

Nevertheless, they set a large amount of effort and hard work into restoring the developing, while respecting its origins. Two child grand pianos ended up reminiscent of musical evenings of a fifty percent century earlier. The owners’ living quarters and 10 visitor rooms ended up refurbished, and a glassware store was planned for the reduced degree. Peter Steinmetz founded an artwork gallery there all through the summer of 1974.

In 1985, Andy and Jan Coulson, longtime homeowners of the White Gull Inn, bought the Very pleased Mary, lastly bringing the two houses under joint operation again immediately after 46 years. They did big renovations, and Jan operated a shop on the decrease stage that provided upscale women’s and children’s garments.

Andy recollects that there was no kitchen area in the constructing at that place, but he vaguely remembers that there was a dumb waiter pulled by ropes to upper flooring.

Jim and Laurie Roberts, who had owned the Griffin Inn (now Wickman Household) because 1986, purchased the resort from the Coulsons in 1996.

They marketed it in 2003 to its latest caretakers, Bill and Michelle Tressler, entrepreneurs of Hinterland Brewery in Eco-friendly Bay due to the fact 1995. Invoice used a great deal of his childhood in Ephraim and on Kangaroo Lake and liked the spot. On family vacation in Eire, he and Michelle had stayed in B&Bs and assumed how good it would be to produce a comparable little, pleasant cafe in Doorway County. 

The Whistling Swan proved to be specifically what they have been looking for. 

In 1997, the structures that at the time created up the resort had been specified the Welcker Historic District on the Countrywide Register of Historic Destinations.

Welcker Was an Appealing Male

Dr. Welcker reserved the appropriate to refuse to lease rooms centered on what ever basis he selected: attire, identity or frame of mind. A single tale, cited by Ann Thorp in Quantity 5 of the Doorway County Almanak, claims that he turned absent a young member of the Pabst family and his get together due to the fact of their “racy and outlandish dresses and relatively ahead way.” Afterwards, when his niece ran the vacation resort, it was described that company stayed by invitation only.

Smallpox was a recurring problem in the county through the early many years of the 20th century. Realizing some thing about virology from his training in Germany, Welcker regularly drew blood from 11-calendar year-old Merle Thorp, who experienced seemingly survived the sickness, and used it to make a vaccine for other village small children. 

When Welcker bought a farm to grow food stuff for the White Gull Inn, he obtained two horses from Asa Thorp, the founder of Fish Creek. They turned out to be trotting horses, with a diagonal gait in which the remaining entrance and right rear legs transfer at the same time – not suited to plowing corn! The contract to obtain the horses was canceled.

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