Our downtown cottages and historic bed and breakfast in Door County, WI are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and offers visitors an exceptional Fish Creek, WI lodging option.
Charming & Historic
Meet the Innkeepers: Matt and Darlene Ranzau
Fish Creek Honeymooners to Innkeepers – The story of how Matt and Darlene Ranzau became owners of the Thorp House Inn & Cottages
Matt and Darlene Ranzau first visited the Thorp House Inn & Cottages on their honeymoon in September 1993. When they first saw the inn, nestled into the hill above downtown Fish Creek with its flagstone walkway and charming white clapboard exterior, they knew they’d made the right choice. Checking into the Teal Cottage, they spent the next several glorious days touring northern Door County, shopping, dining and simply basking in the glow of early Fall in Fish Creek. Matt, a Wisconsin native, had grown up visiting Door County as a child and had many fond memories, so when Matt and Darlene (who were living at Camp Pendleton while Matt served in the Marine Corps) decided to get married, they chose Door County for their honeymoon. A perfect choice because it also allowed them to visit Matt’s family in Wisconsin along the way.
Fast forward 24 years.
In 2017 Matt wanted to surprise Darlene for their upcoming 25th wedding anniversary. Thinking long and hard about finding a truly special destination, he decided the best surprise would be to return to Door County, to the same Teal Cottage at the Thorp House Inn they both had enjoyed so much. Matt got in touch with the Thorp House Inn’s owner, Melanie Camp and shared his plan. To his delight, Melanie was both enthusiastic and accommodating. Melanie assured Matt while she had done some minor remodeling to the Teal cottage, many of the pieces in it were exactly the same, so she felt confident Darlene would fall in love with it all over again. Sure enough, when the couple arrived, Darlene was both genuinely surprised and delighted. Matt and Darlene felt a wave of nostalgia about being on a “second honeymoon” after more than two decades.
Matt and Darlene had long-wanted to own a business but hadn’t been able to decide on what kind of business, or where the business should be located. Prior to traveling to Door County, the couple had narrowed their focus to lodging properties. When they asked owner Melanie Camp if they could sit and pick her brain about the pros and cons of innkeeping, they had no idea what would happen next. After asking questions for some time, Matt sensed that Melanie may be interested in selling her inn. He then asked if she knew anyone in Door County who might want to sell their lodging property. Melanie answered, “Well, it is interesting that you are asking that. I have been considering selling the Thorp House Inn.”
In a very short time, the off-market Thorp House Inn & Cottages was effectively under contract, sold and smoothly transitioned to Matt and Darlene. Matt reflected “Melanie was the perfect guide throughout the purchasing process and even stayed on to help during the transition.” Melanie returned the compliment by saying “Matt and Darlene were wonderful to work with, both of us offering compromises to make sure the deal could go through.”
Now Matt and Darlene can call themselves Door County innkeepers, fulfilling a long-time dream of owning and running a business and the story of how they got here is as romantic as Door County itself.
Thorp House Inn, 1905
In 1902, Freeman Thorp, nephew of Asa Thorp, founder of Fish Creek, began the building of the house. Tragedy struck on October 3, 1903, when the steamship Erie L. Hackley capsized in a sudden squall, claiming the life of Freeman and 10 others.
Fate necessitated that the widowed Jessie Thorp begin renting rooms to tourists. Later named Cedar Ridge, Breezy Hill, and The Heritage, the Thorp home continued to accommodate guests well into the 1960′s.
In 1986, after extensive restoration, its doors opened to visitors once again, this time as a Door County bed and breakfast. As a tribute to the Thorp women, the guest rooms bear their names.
Inspiration For The New York Times Bestseller, Bitter Sweet
“In Bitter Sweet, LaVyrle Spencer spins a spellbinding tale of true love and postponed romance between two spirited individuals, played out against the breathtaking landscape of Door County. Brimming with emotion, superb storytelling, the richly drawn characters, and spirited passion that make all her books irresistible and exquisitely satisfying. Bitter Sweet is another masterful novel in the heartwarming Spencer tradition.”
- Take I-43 North
- Exit on WI-57 North to Sturgeon Bay
- Stay on WI-42/WI-57 North to bypass downtown Sturgeon Bay
- Just north of Sturgeon Bay there will be a traffic light that splits WI-42 and WI-57
- Stay on WI-42 North to Fish Creek
- At the bottom of the bluff heading into downtown Fish Creek, take your first right onto Bluff Lane (Nicolet Bank will be immediately on your left)
- At the first stop sign on Hill Street, continue straight ahead on Bluff Lane
- We are located on the right approximately 50 yards after the stop sign
4135 Bluff Lane
Fish Creek, WI 54212
PO Box 490
Fish Creek, WI 54212