John Baumgartner – DCMM Board of Directors

John Baumgartner, whose family founded Paper Machinery Corporation in Milwaukee, is a passionate, involved supporter of the Door County Maritime Museum’s new Maritime Lighthouse Tower in Sturgeon Bay. Watch his video to find out the background story of John’s involvement and why he encourages YOU to support the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower, as well.

An important Message from Mark Murphy

Two Maritime Men Talk about the Lighthouse Tower

John Roen Asher, 2nd Vice President – DCMM Board of Directors

I stood in awe as the thousand-foot ore carrier Edwin H. Gott left her winter birth at Bay Shipbuilding and headed east thru the Sturgeon Bay ship canal. Hundreds of spectators lined the shore and the walkways of the two downtown bridges as she slowly navigated these narrow openings. Witnessing this operation is truly a site to behold and one that we who live and work in Sturgeon Bay never take for granted. One needs only to remind themselves that it wasn’t long ago that this same canal was being navigated by wooden schooners, steam tugs and coal-fired ferries, scurrying to accomplish their tasks at hand. The question is how do we connect and preserve the old with the new?

My family has been involved in the maritime construction and maritime transportation business for 100 years. I have personally witnessed, like so many others before me, the evolution of various marine related businesses right here in my back yard. In addition, I have spent the last twenty-five years on the Door County Maritime Museum Board of Directors trying in every way possible to preserve our storied past for future generations. This is not an easy task, it takes time, commitment and especially money to pay it forward. I truly believe our proposed Maritime Tower, emphasizing STEP (science, technology, engineering and math) will leave all those who visit this proposed icon of Sturgeon Bay with a clearer understanding of our maritime history, as well as, spark children’s interest in maritime careers.

Our new Maritime Tower will serve to connect the past with the present for people of all ages on each of the ten floors. Brilliant touchscreens with interactive displays will enable you to visit our storied maritime history right here on Sturgeon Bay’s waterfront. Our eleventh-floor outside observation deck will allow you to watch freighters such as the Gott peacefully make their way through the downtown bridges. Best part of all, no need to climb ten flights of stairs, our elevator will take you to new heights with a spectacular view of downtown Sturgeon Bay you will never forget. I truly believe that “if you build it, they will come”, and what an exciting time to be part of this huge undertaking. 

New York has is, “Empire State Building”, Seattile its, “Space Needle” and St Louis its, “Arch Way to the West”. Let’s strive to make the Door County Maritime Museum’s, “Maritime Tower” one of Wisconsin’s top ten attractions list, and a must-see for everyone. Please donate whatever you can to help make this vision a reality.


Patti Vickman, Superintendent – Southern Door County School District

Having grown up in Door County, with many relatives who worked in the shipbuilding industry, I can appreciate the importance of preserving the rich maritime traditions of the past for future generations. The innovative, hands-on, interactive exhibits that are planned for the museum will serve to capture the imaginations and fuel the learning of children and adults of all ages. Bringing in exhibits from around the world will demonstrate the broad global scope of the maritime industry and open up new educational avenues for career exploration. There is no doubt that students and families will want to experience these wonderful exhibits over and over again – making the Door County Maritime Museum a destination to return to time and time again, each time offering new and exciting experiences.

Bob DeNoto, Secretary DCMM Board of Directors

Why do I support the Vision of the Maritime “Tower”?  A simple answer would be:  Because I serve as Secretary to the Board of Directors of the Door County Maritime Museum.  But it’s much more than that:  I’ve been a docent at the museum for nearly 15 years and have toured countless numbers of visitors: Road Scholars, Mid-Westerners, East and West Coasters; as well as folks from other countries.  All of them light up during their tour.  They had no idea; what a jewel this Maritime Museum is!

As we transition into 10 floors of additional, state of the art Exhibits, that reflect the rich Maritime History and surrounding waters of Door County, it can only get better. Our exhibits will be edutaining, immersive and interactive. They will embrace all the elements of Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) for our younger visitors. STEM interactive exhibits are intended to inspire youth and stimulate young minds.  Our indoor and outdoor viewing decks will provide vistas that are not attainable from the ground.  I’m excited!

I’ve lived in Door County for over 20 years.  This is a wonderfully vibrant community of people who are here by choice (that makes a difference). I’ve seen Door County grow as a destination.  While that certainly presents its challenges, it also brings with it a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Help us with our “Journey to the Top”, to celebrate our Maritime History and to educate and promote Community Pride   

Roger Utnehmer – Door County Daily News

The Door County Maritime Museum is a Sturgeon Bay gem.  The proposed Maritime Lighthouse Tower will make it even better.

The eleven-story tower will open space for more exhibits sharing the maritime history of Door County for generations to come.  Additional meeting space and an observation deck will be used by many and become an even better reason to visit Sturgeon Bay.

This is a waterfront development that is paid for by donations, not dependent on taxpayer expense, serves a public purpose and will become a significant tourist magnet in the heart of our community.

A major reason for Sturgeon Bay residents to be proud of this proposal is that it will be a valued resource for local residents as well as a welcome educational experience for visitors.

The tower, close to the iconic Michigan Street Bridge, will become a pair of visual images for which Sturgeon Bay will be known for generations into the future.

The current facility in Sturgeon Bay is one of the community’s most valuable resources.  The museum excels at educating about the maritime history and preserving the memory of Sturgeon Bay’s rich water-related heritage.

The Maritime Lighthouse Tower will fuel the future with an exciting and educational experience worth supporting with a visit, a donation and a word of encouragement to those responsible for its development.

The west side of Sturgeon Bay needs something positive, educational, economically stimulating and taxpayer-free and this project is just that.

Read article.

Stephanie Klett, Secretary – Wisconsin Department of Tourism

The Door County Maritime Museum is already a tourism gem celebrating Wisconsin’s rich maritime history. The plans by the Door County Maritime Museum and Lighthouse Preservation Society to expand its facility is exciting and when completed has the potential to attract even more visitors and generate greater economic impact for the region.

The proposed tower will give visitors panoramic and inspiring lake views for miles, making the museum an even bigger draw for visitors. I look forward to its opening which will only enhance an already fabulous tourism experience for visitors to Door County.

Thad Birmingham, Mayor – City of Sturgeon Bay

What better way to experience the “Shipbuilding Capital of the Great Lakes” than from the perch of this Maritime Lighthouse Tower … a great addition to our working waterfront!

Pam Seiler, Executive Director – Destination Sturgeon Bay

The Maritime Lighthouse Tower would truly be a fantastic addition and draw to Sturgeon Bay. We are the only Door County Community with a working waterfront. It would allow many more visitors and residents to see our working waterfront and appreciate the diverse beauty from the lake to the bay.

David Ward, Chairman & Bill Chaudoir, Executive Director – Door County Economic Development Corporation

Dear Friends,

The Door County Economic Development Corporation is proud to support the Maritime Lighthouse Tower expansion by the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay.

We believe,

  • The tower will become one of the County’s most popular attractions and a “can’t miss” travel destination for both local residents and visitors alike.
  • The tower will be an incredible tool to help our residents, especially our youth, to better understand and appreciate the unmatched natural beauty, unique geography and critical economic role that the waterfront plays in our community.
  • The tower and its exhibits will greatly enhance the museum’s ability to recognize and celebrate the incredible maritime history and continuing critical role that shipbuilding, recreational boating and related maritime business contribute to the economy of our community, region and state.
  • The tower will be a catalyst for future economic development in the City. The recent West Waterfront Redevelopment Study identified the important role that the Maritime Museum already plays as an anchor and economic driver for this area. The proposed tower will further solidify this role and will be a significant asset in helping to attract private developers to invest and create new jobs in our beautiful waterfront community.

We strongly urge the community to step up in support of the Lighthouse Tower at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay. Thank you for your interest and consideration.

Dan Tjernagel, Superintendent of Schools – School District of Sturgeon Bay

June 14, 2017

Dear City of Sturgeon Bay Leaders and Elected Representatives,

On June 14 I had the opportunity to correspond with and meet in person with Bill Harder from the Door County Maritime Museum. Bill talked with me about various facets of the tower project, the 10 proposed floor exhibits, the cycle for providing critical input and ongoing feedback for the Maritime Museum programs, the way they plan to use technology to engage audience members of various ages in meaningful interactive exhibits, and the fact that they really see students and families as the core target group for their programming.

As a parent, educator, representative of your local school district, and city resident, I want to express my support for what they are looking to accomplish. Their vision, work, and the way they want to positively impact young people and families both in our community, and also in communities around the country to help them learn about the importance of our maritime heritage and also the special places that Sturgeon Bay and Door County are, are important and things can bring value in the coming years.

As a former high school principal, I often told my students and their parents that we want our young people to have “the most and best options” as they consider their futures. I believe the expansive programming and opportunities available through the Maritime Museum expanded exhibits should engage young people, personalize experiences for them, and get them thinking about what needs and possibilities await them in the future.

I am sorry I am not able to deliver my message of support at the Plan Commission meeting in person as members of my administrative team and I will be in Madison for the Quality Educator Convention. Thank you for reading my brief thoughts of support.

As always, if there is anything that I or another member of the school district can do to assist with the many issues and decisions you must navigate, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Dan Tjernagel, Superintendent of Schools

Additional Tower Project Information