“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Washington Island in Door County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Island Retreat

Island Retreat Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, August 20, 2014
1. Island Retreat Marker
Inscription.  Imagine owning your own island.
In 1910, inventor and industrialist Chester Thordarson began to realize that dream by acquiring most of Rock Island except for the lighthouse area.
Thordarson with the Icelandic work crew in front of the cookhouse, 1920s.

Thordarson renovated a 19th century log house from the fishing village near the southeast shore, and initially used it as his residence.
In 1924, he hired a crew to clear 30 acres on the west side of Rock Island. One of the first buildings erected was a log lodge for his many guests. Other buildings followed in the 1920s.
Thordarson entertained his Chicago employees and friends in this one and a half story "chalet," built in 1925.

Thordarson had a deep interest in nature.
He created landscapes based on different themes. The unique greenhouse featured a fieldstone foundation, cornerstone pillars and an attached cobblestone cottage with a green Spanish tile roof. Known for his preservation of the natural landscape, native animals and wildflowers, Thordarson limited development on the island.
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his greenhouse, Thordarson conducted botanical experiments and grew the fragile species he enjoyed protecting.
Thordarson ordered the Japanese garden destroyed after the attack on Pearl Harbor to show his patriotism.

The island's buildings and grounds reflect Thordarson's romantic vision replica of his native Iceland.
Made of local wood and stone, the structures included everything he needed to entertain guests on the island. Guests boated, fished, and hiked the island. Thordarson even build a cottage for Chicago mayor "Big Jim" Thompson.
Female employees from Thordarson's factory visited the island in September 1927. Chicago mayor "Big Bill" Thompson (center) and two Chicago cronies on Rock Island.
Erected by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureEntertainment. A significant historical year for this entry is 1910.
Location. 45° 24.558′ N, 86° 49.701′ W. Marker is near Washington Island, Wisconsin, in Door County. Marker can be reached from Havamal Trail. Marker is in Rock Island State Park, a short distance east from the public boat dock, at the north end of the 1930 pagoda. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington Island WI 54246, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of
Marker on the north (left) end of the 1930 pagoda at Rock Island State Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, August 20, 2014
2. Marker on the north (left) end of the 1930 pagoda at Rock Island State Park
this marker, measured as the crow flies. Beacon on the Bluff (approx. 1.2 miles away); Washington Harbor / Schoolhouse Beach / Limestone Gems / Disappearing Treasure (approx. 4.9 miles away); Historic Shipwreck (approx. 4.9 miles away); Welcome to Den Norske Grenda (approx. 5.6 miles away); The Coffee Pot (approx. 6.2 miles away); Pilot Island Site (approx. 11 miles away); Town of Liberty Grove (approx. 11 miles away); The Niagara Escarpment (approx. 11 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Washington Island.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 27, 2022. It was originally submitted on August 23, 2022, by McGhiever of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This page has been viewed 112 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 23, 2022, by McGhiever of Minneapolis, Minnesota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 20, 2024