This building, which was the original summer kitchen for the property, is probably older than the main house. It appears to have been built in the 1880's. The oldest part of the cottage is the living room, pantry and eastern bedroom. The western bedroom and bath were added much later.
A summer kitchen is pretty much what it sounds like; a place to do cooking and other household chores during the summer. The summer kitchen's distance from the main house kept it and the house from becoming too hot in the summer. It also kept the smells and sounds of necessary household activities out of the living space.
After lying unused for many years, the summer kitchen was sold in the early 1950's to a resident of Tisch Mills, for use as a retirement home. It was sold again around 1960 and used until the late 1980's.
In 1991, Jerry and Anne Sinkula, the owners of the Norman General Store property learned that the summer kitchen was vacant and soon to be torn down. They were able to find the building in Tisch Mills and move it back to its original location behind the Norman house. Before they could position it, they had to rebuild the crumbling foundation. Instead of pouring concrete, they rebuilt it as it was originally--with fieldstone that came from the property. Some of those fieldstone were probably ones Jerry had helped to pick out of the field behind the house when we was a child.
Picking fieldstone is a necessary part of farming. Each winter, frost causes buried rocks to be lifted from deep in the soil to the surface, where they would interfere with sowing and planting if they were not removed. This is why so many farms have stone foundations, outbuildings and low stone walls around the fields--the rocks have to be removed and farmers seldom let anything go to waste.
After the summer kitchen was placed on its foundation, restoration began. The fiberboard siding was removed and replaced with handmade cedar siding identical to the original. The porch and roof were rebuilt, including split cedar shingles made at an old-fashioned steam-driven sawmill. The cold winters, strong winds and warm summer sun eventually wore down those cedar shingles. Instead of continuing to replace the old shingles as needed, we decided to install more durable, modern roofing (but maintained the historic look) in the fall of 2017.
The Summer Kitchen Cottage is available for vacation rental through Airbnb.
The Local Favorites page highlights a few of the nearby attractions you may find of interest during your stay at the Summer Kitchen Cottage. Visit the Kewaunee Area Chamber of Commerce website for information on activities and attractions in this beautiful area of northeast Wisconsin.