Friday, June 22, 2012


Town Line and Range Line Roads, Washington Island, Wisconsin -

The Historic Island Dairy, known to islanders over the years as the “cheese factory” or “Thor’s Chalet,” has been extensively remodeled by Marsha Williams and Scott Sonoc.  An opening public reception will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 30, with both floors of the building open for viewing. 
Their island home is near Little Islands, on Figenschau Bay, and they own and have restored several other island properties, prior to the Historic Island Dairy.   Marsha serves on several corporate boards, and she is semi-retired, and Scott is an architect heading a Chicago architectural firm. 
They bought the former island dairy property because it was central to the island in location, and had at one time reflected the heart of the island's dairy business, with a significant history. 

 According to Marsha, what appealed to her was the fact that the old dairy “was located in the center of the island, and it reflected the beauty of the island.  It was pretty, and it needed some TLC.”

Scott added, “This is what we can do, like ‘planting an apple tree’.  Others might take photos or bake, for example, but this is what we know how to do - in serving the community, the public interest.”  

Complying with state and local permits, the Historic Island Dairy property can host a wide variety of public uses.  Initially, a gallery will occupy the first floor space, open to the public on weekends, or when docents are available.  (A photography exhibit by former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Photographer Ron Overdahl will be featured this summer.)  The second floor has an open, comfortable space for large gatherings, open to an outer deck with a view to fields in the west.  This building is  fully accessible, and it is the first on the island to have an elevator.
Flexibility in the design will allow for creating smaller spaces in the future, such as offices on the lower level.  The building has high-energy efficiency, and it is zoned so that the first floor can be heated independently. But, if a special winter event comes along, the second floor space can be quickly heated.  
There are many pleasant, advanced features to be found in this building.  Overall, this is a beautiful structure with wonderful history, and it will add to Washington Island's interest and diversity. 

As a long term goal, Marsha and Scott hope that Islanders will appreciate and enjoy this building, incorporating it into community life, much as when it was an active Island Dairy.

- Dick Purinton 

1 comment:

susan albright said...

The most beautiful of places on "the Island." Celebrated our 50th anniversary and everyone that attended proclaimed the amazing transformation from dairy factory to cultural center.

The lavender fields and surrounding farmland set the stage for a most glorious "gathering" place.

We had all of the amenities of a banquet facility with a setting unequaled to any we have seen. The art gallery focus is on local artists and those who visit Washington Island as a haven of rest and quiet.