Enchanted by Madeline Island's rich mix of history and natural beauty, Leo and Bella Capser made preservation of the island's story their personal mission. With help from Apostle Islands historian Hamilton Nelson Ross and amateur archeologist Al Galazen, the Capsers assembled a large collection of relics documenting every chapter of the island's long and storied history.
The museum was created by adjoining four historic log structures end to end—a small 1835 warehouse from the historic American Fur Company complex, the former La Pointe town jail, a Scandinavian-style barn, and the Old Sailors' Home, originally built as a memorial to a drowned sailor. Construction of the museum was overseen by Al Galazen, Ham Ross provided the storyline, and Bella designed the exhibits. On June 15, 1958, the Madeline Island Historical Museum opened its doors to the public.