“Our lights shine”
January 27, 2013
I have to confess right up front that I stole the title for this article from a record on You Tube, “Algoma State of Mind,” by The Crispy Brothers featuring DJ Swagz. That title struck me as right on the mark --- I’ve been to the town a few times and love it. It is a state of mind. There is something about this town that touched my spirit.
Algoma is a small city of about 3,000 in Kewaunee County just south of Door County, east of Green Bay on Lake Michigan. The main highway through town is Hwy 42 which goes north to Sturgeon Bay and south to Kewaunee. I actually found a small home here I wish I could buy, right on the water, but financial issues have slowed me down. I’d live here in a heartbeat.
In addition to being on Lake Michigan, the Ahnapee River flows out to the lake through the town. This is a MapQuest shot of the harbor area.
Here she comes. She rises in Door County to the north and flows for about 15 miles to Algoma …
… and there she goes out into the lake. It’s tough on the eyes, but can you see the red lighthouse way out there? Let me get you closer.
Well, a little closer. It is on the northern breakwater walkway. The sign talks about how 52 schooners transporting Christmas trees to Milwaukee and Chicago passed this point in the 1800s.
Here you see some people who’ve walked out on the breakwater to get the view and breath in the fresh air.
You can also walk out along the longer breakwater on the south side of the harbor.
And of course, where these is such a beautiful harbor in a beautiful town, you’ve got the boats berthed up at the Algoma Marina, with some out enjoying the day on the lake.
In the foreground is the Ahnapee River as it flows into the harbor and out. You are looking at the south side of the harbor, and you can see a very nice parking area and the visitor center for those who wish to make the hike out on the breakwater. The breakwater on this side is lit at night, and goes for about a half mile. There is a boardwalk going out of this area to the beach to the south.
Here you can see both the boardwalk and the beach, Crescent Beach, with two volleyball nets set up. It was a weekday in mid-September and it was about 4 pm so not many people out there.
Well, okay, let’s go downtown! Throughout, note how the town has preserved its architecture.
Fourth Street, which is also Hwy 42, is the main drag through town, with a second main drag jutting off toward the lake called Steele St. Steele goes directly to the dock area.
This is Tina Marie’s Boutique specializing in wedding gowns, tuxedos, bridesmaids dresses, and more formal dresses for the ladies. Looked first class to me.
EZ Computer --- a DSL and Starband dealer, installs telephone systems, dialup internets, and provides a plethora of network and web services.
The Steelhead Saloon on 4th and Clarke. Now we’re cookin’. I had a few brewskis and dinner here, fabulous. My kind of place, my kind of people.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on 4th St.
These next shots were taken along Steele Street, which goes to the Harbor Marina perpendicular off 4th Street.
Still on Steele Street, from immediate left to right: Harmann Studios, photo portraits; Classic Waves, beauty and tanning salon; and in the distance with the flag and bright round sign, Steele Street Floral.
This building hosts the Good Tidings Gifts & Decor.
These two fellas are guarding the entry to Good Tidings Gifts & Decor.
This is the Stebbens Hotel, Algoma’s only full service hotel, with casual dining and a bar. The Hotel Stebbins started life as the Ahnapee House in 1857 and has always operated as a hotel. It is on the corner of 2nd and Steele. This is shot from 2nd St.
Much of this building is occupied by the Ivy Cottage, also on 2nd Street, a gift shop.
This is 2nd Street approaching the 2nd Street bridge over the Ahnapee River. Off to the right is Richmond Park, at the end of the Harbor Walkway, which goes to the north breakwater. It is a new, small park, pretty, a great place for a picnic or just to watch the water traffic. In the background is St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, founded in 1860.
No rural town would be complete without a feed store, in this photo, the Kodan Feed Store. The south bank of the Ahnapee River is lined with a mass of feed stores, silos, and mills. In the days when the Ahnapee & Western Railroad served Algoma, the track passed just behind these buildings.
Before moving on to interesting wall murals done but The Walldogs, I want to highlight a B&B at which I stayed while visiting.
This is the Belle Isle Inn. Joseph and Helene “Schulte” Kohlbeck built this unique Victorian in 1910. It has been operating since 2008 under the ownership of Tia and Scott Bellisle. It is a few blocks from Lake Michigan. It has two rooms, a king and a queen, both wonderful. But best of all, perhaps, is that Tia serves you a breakfast every morning that is four courses and will knock your socks off. I told Tia I did not eat breakfast --- I ate it all! Both Tia and Scott are among the most welcoming B&B owners I’ve ever met. I intend to visit Algoma a lot, as a springboard into Green Bay and Door County, and I will adjust my schedule so I can stay here every time.
I first learned of the Walldogs when visiting Plymouth, Wisconsin, and did a story on them and Plymouth, Walldogs of Plymouth, Wisconsin --- describing the town’s history through wall art. The Walldogs are groups of artists who, upon request, and with pay, paint the sides of buildings or barns to preserve the tradition of the town, hand painting old time advertisements on brick walls and barns across the nation. They were busy in Algoma as well.
Hennemann’s Cream City House, unable to find any history about this
The Ahnapee and Western Railway was started in 1890, but did not get moving until 1892. At the time, Ahnapee was the name of the town that is now known as Algoma. The railroad ran 34.5 miles (55.5 km) from a connection with the Kewaunee, Green Bay and Western Railroad at Casco Junction to the lakeshore terminals of Algoma in Kewaunee County and Sturgeon Bay in the "Door County thumb" of Wisconsin. The Don Ross Group said this, “The road was quite successful in connecting with marine traffic at both Algoma and Sturgeon Bay. The bountiful Door County cherry crop moved by A&W. Passenger service was heavy to the resort country. It was difficult to distinguish this road from the GB&W over the years. The depression was not kind to the line, and regular passenger service ended in 1937. There were special moves during the war when German prisoners were brought in to harvest the lush crops.” The Ross Group presents a nice history we commend to you.
Frank Kohlback came to the US from Bohemia. His son Michael was a tailor and clothier, as was his son, Norbert. Frank founded the store in 1876 and he and the sons carried on until closing.
The Margaret, a fishing tug, was built by Peterson Boat Works in 1934 for Joe Schmidt of Algoma. The 45 ft. x 12 ft. wood hulled vessel was equipped with a Kahlenberg oil engine(size not known), installed at Algoma, and taken from another boat. Schmidt later sold her to Ed Zastrow, Algoma. Again sold to owners in Door County the boat was last operated out of Baileys Harbor, A severe storm in January 1975 resulted in heavy damage to the boat while at a dock at Baileys Harbor. Since that time the boat has been used as a centerpiece in several museum displays.
The Algoma Net Company has been in business for 100 years and is operating today, manufacturing hammocks and other outdoor lifestyle products.