Founders Square History
As immigrants arrived on the eastern seaboard in the early 1800s, stories of the frontier's riches lured the newcomers westward. Rivers dense with fish, virgin forests, and prairies ripe for cultivation tempted the immigrants arriving from countries around the world. Recognizing opportunity, Asa Thorp was one of Fish Creek's earliest settlers. Building a simple log cabin on Green Bay's shoreline, the cooper (barrel-maker) purchased land, established a lumbering business, constructed a pier on the waterfront, and built the second summer tourist hotel in Wisconsin. Entrepreneurial by nature, he generally encouraged settlement and enterprise.
The village of Fish Creek was established in 1857. In 1858, the Township of Gibraltar–consisting of the villages of Fish Creek, Juddville and Maple Grove–was established. Farmers, lumbermen, and fishermen settled their families on the surrounding fields, scrapping out homesteads bordered with the rocks they cleared. But the settlers' efforts were rewarded...and the community prospered. Three general stores supplied goods to the settlers. Several churches, a school, and library fulfilled the spiritual and education needs of the villagers. With the establishment of a post office the United States government officially acknowledged the Township of Gibraltar.
By the turn of the 20th century, visitors from Chicago, St. Louis, and Milwaukee "discovered" the virtues of Door County. Dr. Hermann Welcker's resort, organized in the tradition of the European spa, offered a regimen of food, rest and healthy meals. Within a few years, the resort's guests were building homes on Cottage Row. Soon enough, where horses had pulled wagons over dirt roads, Model Ts were transporting visitors to their accommodations.
Today, the essence of Fish Creek and its surrounding countryside is reflected in the people and places that echo with a unique history. Walk through Founder's Square and visit Asa Thorp's original cabin. Most of the stores in Founders Square are original cottages that vistors from the 1800s would stay at.