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By Amy Paul / Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 09:40 am
Exhibit Spotlights Tower Campaign; Fitzgerald Exhibit Now Open Daily

STURGEON BAY, WI (January 14, 2016) – The Door County Maritime Museum is figuratively shining a light on its campaign to build an 11-story tower at its location in Sturgeon Bay.

The museum recently restored the Fresnel lens that was formally housed in the Green Bay Entrance Lighthouse on permanent loan from the United State Lighthouse. The light is now situated in the lower lobby of the museum as part of an informational display on the tower project. The lens will sit enclosed atop the tower when it is completed.

Calling it a “major step forward,” the museum expansion serves both as an observation platform for the community’s stunning harbor and additional space for an array of state-of-the-art exhibits for all ages.

The “Reaching New Heights in Our Maritime Heritage” campaign will ultimately produce an addition that will promote Northeastern Wisconsin’s shipbuilders and maritime-related businesses as well as the world’s most extensive navigable waterways system.

While the expansion project will include an expanded lobby and museum store, the highlight will be the elevator ride to the 10th floor indoor 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.

From here, visitors will have a simulated lighthouse experience by climbing the spiral staircase to the 11th floor beacon enclosure and open observation deck.

The lens from the Green Bay lighthouse was originally installed in 1935. It dates back to approximately 1880, having also been used at a different location. The lens design was created by French physicist Augustine Fresnel in 1822 and was used extensively in the United States, including in as many as 12 Door County lights.

For more information related to the campaign or to support the project, please contact the museum’s executive director, Rick O’Farrell, at 920.743.5958.



The museum’s exhibit marking the 40th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald can again be viewed daily at the museum in Sturgeon Bay.

The wreck, made famous for the mysterious conditions under which the 729-ft. freighter sank and further elevated in the public’s conscience by Gordon Lightfoot’s hit song, remains the most significant sinking in Great Lakes history.

The sinking on Nov. 10, 1975 has particular ties to Door County since the vessel had a number of winter layovers in Sturgeon Bay. Even more significant was the fact that two of the 29 lives lost in the tragedy, Oliver “Buck” Champeau and Russell Haskell, grew up in Sturgeon Bay.

While not one of the museum’s larger exhibits, it effectively pays tribute to the hardy seamen who braved some of the most difficult weather conditions ever experienced on Lake Superior.

Highlights include a deck light and life jacket given to the museum when the Fitzgerald was in Sturgeon Bay for off-season work. A video featuring radio conversations recorded on Nov. 10, 1975 discussing the possible sinking and rescue attempts is another intriguing aspect of the presentation. Artwork of the Fitzgerald from the museum’s collection is also interspersed throughout the exhibit. 

Additional artifacts have been added to the exhibit while on display. One is a searchlight from the Arthur M. Anderson which was sailing near the Fitzgerald and courageously battled the storm in the search for survivors. The Anderson is currently docked at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay. Also added is an impressive eight-foot model of the “Fitz” crafted by Jerry Guenther, whose model of the Titanic was the centerpiece of the museum’s 100th commemorative exhibit of its sinking in 2012.

120 N Madison Ave , Sturgeon Bay, WI
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Door County Events
June 2017
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