History

78 Years of Innkeeping

The Neddersen Family
Continues a Legacy

The Door County peninsula and its neighboring islands have been inhabited by people for thousands of years — archaeological records indicate that the lands have been continuously occupied by humans since roughly 10,000 B.C. European settlers arrived on the scene over the last few centuries, including the Scandinavian settlers whom many festivals and traditions continue to honor. Eagle Harbor Inn’s history is not nearly as vast as that of the peninsula, but its details are just as intriguing.

Pencil drawing of house with chimney

Svalhus

In 1920, when Peter Knudson purchased the land where the present day Eagle Harbor Inn sits, there was only one building on site: the svalhus, or ‘cool house’ in Norwegian. In the time before refrigeration, a svalhus’s cool second floor allowed grains to be stored without spoiling. Nedd and Natalie Neddersen donated the Svalhus to the Ephraim Historical Foundation (EHF) in 1995, where it now houses EHF’s research archive.

Newspaper clipping

Cottage Resort

Ephraim has always tempted summer visitors, and Knudson began baking bread for those who stayed in cottages at the north end of Ephraim. His bread garnered a strong local following, and he eventually added a dining room to his house in 1905. He continued building to meet demand, and eventually added several cottages where guests could relax in the fresh Door County air and fuel up with Knudson’s authentic Scandinavian smorgasbords.

A postcard of visitors cooling off in Eagle Harbor.

The Neddersens Become Part
of Eagle Harbor Inn History

Man and woman sitting in front of flowers
three children holding hands on a lawn

In 1994, Nedd and Natalie Neddersen purchased Eagle Harbor Inn. They had been living in Kona, Hawaii and working in big resort hotels while raising their two young daughters. And while life in Hawaii was picturesque, they couldn’t quite shake the feeling that they wanted to return to their home state of Wisconsin to be closer to family. When Nedd and Natalie returned to the mainland, they traveled through Wisconsin to find a place where they could settle down. When they made their way up to Door County, they were enchanted by its natural beauty, vibrant arts scene, and the care with which residents preserved the peninsula’s history, but always with an eye toward the future. As it happened, Eagle Harbor Inn was on the market, and with their purchase, Nedd and Natalie became the latest in a string of Ephraim innkeepers to welcome guests to idyllic Door County.

Eagle Harbor Neddersons
The Neddersen Family in 2018