Located just north of the Bayview Bridge, Crossroads at Big Creek could be considered the crossroads between Northern and Southern Door County. And we really wish more people would take the time to explore the southern end of the peninsula. The scenery is beautiful and much of the architecture is unique.
This is true, in part, because as early as the 1860s, an area of Southern Door was settled by immigrants from Belgium.Early on, the Belgians lived in log cabins. They farmed and manufactured cedar shingles, but their world changed in 1871 when the devastating Peshigo Fire swept through the areas on both sides of the Bay of Green Bay.
Many were killed or made homeless, yet the forest fire did clear the land so farming became a more viable. Understandably, Belgian survivors of the fire favored stone or brick homes. Consequently, a distinctive regional architecture evolved. Red brick houses with cream colored trim, often with detached “summer kitchens” and outdoor ovens, sturdy barns and wayside chapels were characteristic, and many of these buildings are still in use today.
This week, the Sunday at The Village program will feature Dr Bill Laatsch, a retired professor from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Dr. Laatsch has done extensive research on the Belgian settlers and their ancestors who still live in a 35 square mile area of Door, Brown and Kewaunee County. An engaging speaker, Laatsch will discuss the unique culture of the Belgian community, highlighting their architecture. The free program begins are 2:00 in the Lecture Hall of the Collins Learning Center, Sunday, July 29.
The Historical Village at The Crossroads and the Collins Learning Center Exhibits, open daily 1:30-3:30 during the summer, are located at 2041 Michigan Street, just off Highway 42/57 east of Sturgeon Bay. Family programs are offered at 1:30 Mondays through Thursday during school vacation.
Thursday, July 26 Family Program: Mammals
Learners of all ages will learn about the habitats and habits of Door County mammals. Meet at the Collins Learning Center. Free and open to the public.
Sunday, July 29, 1:30-3:30 Sunday in the Village: “Belgian Architecture in Door County. “
Guides in period clothing will guide visitors through the buildings of The Village. At 2:00 in the Lecture Hall of the Collins Learning Center, Professor Bill Laatsch, retired Professor from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and noted expert on the unique culture of the Belgian people who settled in Door County back in the mid 1800s will present a program on the houses and other structures the Belgians built.
Monday, July 30 , 1:30 Family Program: School Days in 1900
“Schoolmarm” Joan Wilkie will hold class in the Vignes School. Learners of all ages are welcome to step back in history to the time when classes were held in a one room school. Meet at the School in the Historical Village. Free and open to the public.
Tuesday, July 31, 1:30 Family Program: “Butterflies Everywhere”
Join the summer educator in a capture/release activity studying caterpillars, butterflies and other insects of the fields and meadows at Crossroads. Meet at the Collins Learning Center. Free and open to the public.