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Highlights Archives

Door County 100 Years Ago

A cow lies alongside a road in an orchard of blooming cherry trees, May 1916.
WHI 93293

More than 350 photographs of Door County taken in the first half of the 20th century, as it evolved from farmland into a tourist destination, constitute the latest Wisconsin Historic Images photo gallery. Ferdinand Hotz (1868-1946), a German immigrant who became a successful Chicago merchant, created the images. He first visited Fish Creek as a tourist in 1905 and quickly fell in love with the area. He soon began to buy declining farms and by the 1920s was Door County's largest landowner.

Hotz was a jeweler by trade, with many affluent clients. Profits from his Chicago jewelry studio enabled him to acquire large, picturesque tracts of land, some of which became the heart of Newport State Park. His aesthetic taste and visual acuity enabled him to create stunning images of rural roads, rocky shores, lighthouses and rustic scenes around Door County. The gallery contains images of Door County farms, landscapes, shorelines and 40 designs for Edwardian and Art-Deco jewelry loaned for copying by his granddaughter, Mary Uhl.

A biographical article on Hotz, including several of his photographs, will appear in Jim Slattery's article, "Precious Assets: Door Country Photography by Artisan Jeweler Ferdinand Hotz" in the spring 2014 issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History.

:: Posted February 24, 2014

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