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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Murphy Farms test barn (Tim Heggland photo, 2011)

Murphy Farms barn (Tim Heggland photo, 2011)

Murphy Farms general view (Tim Heggland photo, 2011)

Murphy Farms house (Tim Heggland photo, 2011)

Murphy Farms No. 1
7195-7213 Horseshoe Bay Rd. (County Highway G), Town of Egg Harbor, Door County
Dates of contributing buildings: 1918-1925

The Murphy Farms No. 1 was one of two adjoining farms totaling 700-acres developed between 1917 and 1920 by two Green Bay millionaires, Frank E. Murphy and his nephew, Elbridge N. Murphy. Today, Murphy Farms No. 1 is one of the most intact remaining examples of the large farms built in Wisconsin at the end of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth as showcases for their owners' interests in selective breeding. Such farms are of the same grand scale as the large industrial dairy farms also developed in the early twentieth century, but they differ in the greater attention to the architectural design of the show farmís components. The higher quality of the materials used in the show farms further indicates that these farms were built without the intention of making financial gain. Such farms were a nationwide phenomenon during this period but few were built in Wisconsin and they are, therefore, perhaps the rarest farm type to be found in the state.

This multi-generational family-owned farm also represents the Murphy-Cowles family's important role in the agricultural history of Door County. Begun in 1914 as part of a real estate development scheme, Frank E. and Eldridge N. Murphy soon after acquired the farm, greatly enlarged it and made it into a showcase for selective Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle breeding. In 1925, the two men dissolved their partnership and Frank E. Murphy became the sole proprietor of the farm. Murphy disbanded the breeding herd, keeping a more modest dairy herd, and emphasized the fruit growing potential of the farm. Under his and his descendants' ownership, it became the largest single producer of cherries, apples and plums in Door County, as well as the county's largest seasonal employer.

The houses and barns on the farm are private and are not open to the public except for special events. Please respect the rights and privacy of the residents.


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