By Jude Genereaux
Even for the many people who have lived and traveled within Door County for decades, the name “Binkhaven” may not quite register. That will likely end soon, since this once very private Ephraim estate is about to go public.
A 1950s dream mission of Dean and Marilynn (“Bink”) Madden, Binkhaven was envisioned when Dean became deeply interested in his wife’s Norwegian heritage and travels to Norway. Re-creating a spot of their own to reflect that heritage required a landscape similar to Scandinavian fjord country, eventually leading them to purchase land in Door County.
Bink’s brother, architect Russell Amdal, designed the original cottage based on Norwegian peasant design; the project soon engaged Sigmund Aarseth, master of the art of rosemaling. The intricate details used for the house, furnishings and décor continued well beyond completion of the main house in 1962, expanding until the estate contained numerous Stabburs, farm buildings and a treasure trove of artifacts. Bedrooms, bunks, ceilings, bathrooms, staircases – every nook and cranny of Binkhaven is copiously decorated in Aarseth’s distinctive, world-renowned rosemaling.
Interest in Scandinavian design expanded in the 1980s, and the estate gained national attention by being featured in the July 1984 issue of House Beautiful Magazine. The property also served as a site for rosemaling classes in 2003.
In 2010, both Dean Madden and Sigmund Aarseth were honored by the King of Norway, awarding them the St. Olav medal for “Outstanding service in strengthening the bond between expatriate Norwegians and their home country.”
October 2018 brought the sale of the estate to Elliot Taillon, whose goal is to restore and preserve Binkhaven with as little change as possible. Binkhaven will remain part of Door County’s Scandinavian heritage, he said, offered to the public as lodging and respite.
As engaging an attraction as Binkhaven promises to be, Mr Taillon will occasionally offer guided tours of the property’sbuildings in the summer — to assure the privacy of guests, interested parties are asked to contact www.binkhaven.com to make reservations.