Door County’s Architectural Riches

I love old buildings. I've had to because I've always lived in them - my husband and I have even fixed up two old houses so far (or five, if you include our outbuildings). Maybe that's why I love Door County's architecture just as much as our blue waters, woods and craggy limestone bluffs. Our towns offer a breadth and depth of architectural traditions unusual for such a small sliver of a peninsula. To appreciate what the county has to offer, why not take a day or two-long road trip and visit a few sites from the National Register of Historic Places. Start in Southern Door County, and head off the beaten track to find some classic brick Belgian farmhouses and roadside chapels which dot the beautiful rural landscape. Home of the largest concentration of Belgian people in the world outside of Belgium itself, Southern Door's rich history is too often overlooked. Belgian Roadside Chapels are open to all Belgian Roadside Chapels are open to all Cross the waters of Sturgeon Bay via the Michigan Street Bridge, aka “the Steel Bridge,” built in 1931, which still spans the city’s historic downtown waterfront.  The icon is now closely associated with the well-known Steel Bridge Songfest, which was originally staged to raise money to preserve this beautiful bridge. Meander through town to see the Carnegie Free Library on Michigan Street, a beautiful brick ivy-clad edifice built during the heyday of public library construction. The historic Michigan Street Bridge, aka the Steel Bridge, photo courtesy of DCVB. The historic Michigan Street Bridge, aka the Steel Bridge, photo courtesy of DCVB. Grab some lunch and then head north on Highway 57 to the chapel at Bjorklunden, built by  hand in the 1940s in the stavekirke style. Next, head to Cana Island Lighthouse in Baileys Harbor - one of Door County’s many historic lighthouses and a great picnic spot. Dart across the peninsula to Ephraim, where you’ll find the colorful Anderson Dock and the charming Ephraim Moravian Church. The chapel at Bjorklunden The chapel at Bjorklunden For the truly intrepid, hop on the Washington Island and Rock Island Ferries and head to Rock Island to see the imposing Thordarson Estate, built by an eccentric Icelandic immigrant and inventor who created a magnificent private abode. Boathouse at the Thoradsen Estate on Rock Island If you're exhausted from all of your sightseeing, pack it in and spend the night at one of Door County's historic B&Bs. Want more Insider road trip ideas? Try a day in Ellison Bay, a picnic extravaganza, or an afternoon exploring Sturgeon Bay!