September 15, 2016


The Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society has been actively engaged for nearly a year in a fundraising campaign to both construct a 10-story museum tower addition and expand the current facilities in Sturgeon Bay.

The campaign has reached out to more than 2,000 individuals, corporations, foundations and small businesses. Nearly half of the funds needed for construction and one-quarter for the entire project has been raised to date.

“We have been extremely pleased with the response shown by the Door County community and our supporters outside the immediate area. The tower and addition are planned to become a reality in 2017,” said Bill Harder, president of the museum’s board of directors.

The tower will feature an elevator ride to the 10th floor enclosed observation deck with its 360-degree view of Sturgeon Bay. Guests will be able to see downtown Sturgeon Bay to the north and south as well as seeing commercial and recreational boat traffic in the harbor. Touch screen digital displays will help visitors identify sites along the waterfront, both current and past.  From here 10th floor visitors will have the experience of climbing the staircase to the open observation deck for a breath-taking view. To commemorate the lighthouse experience in Door County, visitors can examine a lighted, historic Fresnel lens and climb in the beacon enclosure.

“The tower will serve as a striking visual landmark on the Sturgeon Bay waterfront,” according to Harder. “Every step along the way, we will ensure that our guests have unparalleled, enriching experiences with local maritime history and lore.”

The museum sees the tower project as the keystone in the city’s waterfront redevelopment, significantly impacting the economy of the Door County community, and creating and iconic attraction for business conferences, families, and tourism alike.

“We are preparing for the future of the Door County Maritime Museum,” explains Harder. “A key objective will be to make a visit to the museum not only memorable for the artifacts and displays, but also as an eye-opening educational experience. This project will propel the museum towards 21st century modernization, joining the growing trend among museums across the country. An extensive use of highly interactive electronic displays will be especially appealing to children and families to encourage imagination, enhance discovery and stimulate minds, young and old.”

It is expected the expansion will raise community pride and spur tourism helping Sturgeon Bay serve as a destination site for out-of-town groups, small conventions, and in general, contribute to the local economy.

The new floor plan would increase retail space for an expanded museum store that is key to museum’s sustainable development as well as cater to and expand the number of tour groups visiting the museum. It is hoped local businesses and organizations will make use of the expanded conference and meeting space, not to mention private parties and receptions.

“The expanded store would feature educational toys and books, exhibit-related fun items, a large maritime library, unique nautical gifts and original artwork,” said museum Executive Director Amy Paul. “The museum addition will offer open areas for traveling exhibits that can easily be moved to make room for community training, meeting and conference room spaces.”

Ben Schenkelberg has been retained as the architect for this project. He has built many buildings in Northeast Wisconsin and around the world. He was the architect for the existing museum building in Sturgeon Bay.

In making a plea for financial support, Harder stressed what the expansion will do to enhance the mission of the organization.

“Your contribution will mean that the Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Society will continue to celebrate the leadership and skills of the architects, engineers, designers and skilled craftsmen who through their work in the Great Lakes maritime industry helped to build Sturgeon Bay and Door County.

For more information related to the campaign or to support the project, please contact the Door County Maritime Museum at (920) 743-5958.

Media contact:

Amy Paul, Executive Director

(920) 743-5958;