& Memo of Understanding
Rates and Reservations
(links to 'The Kingdom so Delicious')
Silver Poplar Studios, LLC
E. Door Bluff Road
Ellison Bay, WI 54210
The home of Jim and Carole Maronek in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, is a
collection of antique buildings set in fifteen acres of woods and
meadows, unified by a Russian theme. (Carole's
parents were from Byelorussia.) The centerpiece is their
barn, built in 1998 and registered as "Ellison Wonderland LLC" itself a collection of
reclaimed barns and salvaged materials.
original log portion of the main house at Silver Poplar Studios (the
"dacha," or summer home), was one of the first buildings in northern
Door County. It served as a logging office in the 1850's. A recent
remodeling uncovered a rafter salvaged from a shipwreck containing
nails forged in early 1800. When the property was logged-out, it became
a farm which, due to its bumper crop of stones, was ultimately
abandoned. The property was acquired by a family of musicians from
Milwaukee, and the derelict out-buildings were reclaimed to make an
artists' retreat for their friends in the 1930's. One log barn became
an art studio; and the granary and the horse barn became cottages.
Over the years, concert pieces and ballets have been composed in the
cottages, music lessons and recitals have been performed, and paintings
produced in the studios. Groups of actors studying improvisational
theatre have regularly lived here, as well as performers rehearsing for
local and Broadway productions. Writers have created their manuscripts,
stage designs have been drafted, and fiber artists have dyed their wool
Some features of the property include the main garden with a
"kokotchnik" (Russian onion dome) gazebo; the "trompe l'oeil"
(fool-the-eye) architectural painting, inside and out, of the
"Jzitnitsa," (granary); and the "Firebird," built in the Russian "izba"
(cabin) style. The "Contraption," a welded-steel construction near the
entry, was designed as the feature of a stage setting. The property was
long-ago named after the forty, majestic Silver Poplar trees which once
stood on the grounds. A few remain, as does the name and the mission of
providing a retreat for the creative arts.
The nucleus of the barn is a Slovak log building built in 1892 near
Francis Creek. This is now an art gallery. Added to it, is a
post-and-beam structure (the Moore barn), now a space for
entertainment, trunk shows, workshops and, especially, big Russian
to that is a rare, wooden silo, rescued from a Wisconsin farm, which
serves as an entrance and has been described as "a vertical Zen
garden." Still another huge barn, contributed by Habitat for Humanity
from their property near Valmy, provided spectacular forty-foot beams,
weathered siding, and supplemental materials, allowing the addition of
a garden room.
Parts of other barns, as well, have been incorporated: one from Gurnee,
Illinois, where "Great America" now stands; one from New Jersey,
belonging to Carole's parents; and fragments of various Door County
barns which have vanished. There are Victorian architectural pieces
blended into the mix, and for a touch of sophistication, plaster
ornaments from the old Granada Theatre in Chicago are tucked into the
arched windows, from a convent in Sturgeon Bay, provide ample light and
views of the wild-flower meadows.
Surrounding everything are the extensive gardens, which Carole has
nurtured into exuberant, award-winning displays, framed by wildflowers
and towering Silver Poplar trees.
NEWS & FEATURE STORIES:
A Russian fairytale cottage
opens at "Ellison Wonderland"
Silver Poplar Studios features gallery of works by artist Jim Maronek
Door County Compass June 17, 2006