The Door County Historical Society will host its monthly dinner program about the “History of Chambers Island” presented by Mary Ann Blahnik on Monday, April 24. The dinner and program will be held at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay at 6:00pm.
In 1850, Chambers Island was a thriving logging, fishing and shipbuilding community. It was one of the first townships organized in Door County. In 1916 Door County Historical Society founder Hjalmar Holand wrote, “Fifty years ago, Chambers Island was not only a settled community but an organized town where the voters once a year gathered in solemn conclave to discuss the needs of the roads and bridges, distribute political honors, and damn the state tax. It had a full array of town officers with no less than three justices of the peace, town constables, and even a Sealer of Weights and Measure. It had a public school and a post office, farms, orchards, livestock, a sawmill and a shipbuilding plant. It had occasional religious services and a good sewing circle and tea parties met frequently. The distant little island was in all respects a well-ordered community.” Without public transportation to the island and no permanent residents, the present-day island has become somewhat of a mystery to those who can only view it from afar, merely a green speck on the horizon. Mary Ann Blahnik will share what has happened on the island since those early days.
Joel and Mary Ann Blahnik have been volunteer caretakers of the Chambers Island Lighthouse for over 40 years. Their interest in island history grew out of Joel’s job in the late 1950s as captain of the Ephraim Excursion Boat. Twice weekly he led excursions to the island included brown bag lunches from Al Johnson's and a narrated bus tour of the island. After the lighthouse was transferred by the U.S. Government to the Town of Gibraltar in 1976, the Blahniks, their three children and a dog became lighthouse residents. Mary Ann’s love of island history grew from spending her summers there.
On Monday, April 24, Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant doors will open at 5:30 pm and the dinner will begin promptly at 6:00, followed by the program. Please plan to arrive early for check-in. Al Johnson’s Restaurant will serve Scandinavian bread tray, dinner salad with lingonberry vinaigrette, along with a choice of either a Swedish meatball dinner with mashed potatoes and green beans or vegetarian pasta primavera. The dinner will finish with cherry cheese pie for dessert and coffee, iced tea or milk.
Al Johnson's is located at 10698 Bayshore Drive, Sister Bay. The dinner and program fee for guests is $25; member fee is $20. To make a reservation, mail your check and your meal selection to the Door County Historical Society office P. O. Box 71, Sturgeon Bay 54235 by Tuesday, April 18. For further information, contact the Door County Historical Society at 920.421.2332 or email Director.DCHistoricalSociety@gmail.com.
The Door County Historical Society is a membership organization dedicated to keeping history alive for future generations through the collection, preservation and sharing of the heritage of Door County. The Society operates two interpretive sites: Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park and the Heritage Village at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay.