In the mid-1930′s, townspeople shook their heads in disbelief when they saw Robert Neal and Edgar Hellum buy a decrepit stone house in the Shake Rag area of Mineral Point. Throughout the town, similar vacant stone dwellings were being demolished for their materials, which were used for projects such as retaining walls or house foundations.
Neal and Hellum, however, intended to preserve one of these Cornish cottages. Together the two men restored their first house and named it Pendarvis House. Over the years, Neal and Hellum restored several neighboring Cornish cottages and furnished them with antiques and lead mining tools.
Today, Pendarvis is owned and operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Costumed interpreters and self-guided booklets lead the way through the Pendarvis complex, recalling the days when Mineral Point was a rough and tumble lead mining camp and explaining what brought the Cornish, with their expert knowledge of mining and stone masonry, to settle in the Shake Rag neighborhood.
The Merry Christmas Mine Hill preserves vestiges of both early lead mining and later zinc mining. It also contains 43 acres of restored prairie. Today the prairie again thrives with indigenous grasses and flowering plants. Marked trails traverse the mine property and the adjoining prairie, and provide lovely vistas recalling the frontier landscape that greeted the first settlers. p: 987.2122
For tour information – www.wisconsinhistory.org/pendarvis