The Thoreson Farm is located on the west side of Thoreson Road about 2 miles from M-22.
This parcel of land had two early owners, William Foster and John Hartel. Both men sold their land to Thomas Kelderhouse, who owned it until 1881. The 1891 plat map reveals three owners: Fred and John Anderson, and Lisbet Johnson. All three parcels were bought by John Thoreson in the late 1890's.
John Thoreson and Ingeborg Sakariasdatte emigrated from Norway in 1877. Although they crossed the Atlantic on the same boat, family lore has it that they never really met on the boat. Ingeborg resided with the higher-priced ticket-holders, while John remained below deck with the lower-fare travelers. They first settled in Suttons Bay, and arrived in Port Oneida in 1880. The family initially rented the Kelderhouse/Baker farm until 1883, when they moved to Minnesota for one year. After returning to Port Oneida, they rented the old Burfiend house. Around 1900, along with their sons Ole and Fred, they built their farm on 160 acres of land purchased from the Andersons.
Ole and Fred Thoreson and Ole's son Leonard ran the farm at different times. Leonard farmed from 1947-1952 after he returned to Port Oneida from service in the U.S. Army. Electricity was brought to the farm in February 1945. The Thoresons bought their first tractor on 1 April 1947, and obtained a milking machine in 1949. Ole Thoreson sold the farm to Art Huey in the 1960's and Huey then sold it to the National Park Service.
The Thoresons operated a general farm with livestock, small grains, and hay. With 75 trees, they were the first Port Oneida farm to raise cherries for market. They also owned sheep, pigs, chickens, and a few dairy cattle.
In partnership with the National Park Service, volunteers from the Glen Arbor Art Association have been restoring the farm buildings and using the site as an arts education center. The equipment shed has been rehabilitated for class-room and studio space. They have repaired the red granary building and the barn. They are now working on the interior of the house.
The Thoreson farm is situated in a beautiful area near the Lake Michigan bluffs. From the Bay View trail, you can get a panoramic view of the farm, Lake Michigan, North and South Manitou Islands, and Sleeping Bear Point.
Last updated: August 25, 2021