Pendarvis

Pendarvis

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name = Pendarvis
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location =114 Shake Rag St
Mineral Point, Wisconsin
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added = January 25, 1971
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refnum = 71000038
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Pendarvis is an historic site located in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. The site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is made up of several 19th century cabins built by Cornish immigrants who came to Mineral Point to mine lead. Today the site is owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society and serves as a museum of Wisconsin's early lead mining history.

During the 1830s, the area that today comprises southwest Wisconsin and northwest Illinois was rapidly populated as miners came from across the United States and Europe to mine the region's abundant lead deposits. Several mining boomtowns sprang up in the region, including Galena, Illinois; Platteville, Wisconsin; and Mineral Point, the location of Pendarvis. During the height of the mining era, the population of Mineral Point rose to over 4,000 as people migrated to the city to work in the lead mines. Many of the foreign immigrants who came to Mineral Point were unemployed tin miners from Cornwall, located on the southwest tip of Great Britain. For housing in Mineral Point, many of the Cornish immigrants built themselves simple cabins in the town using wood or limestone taken from the local landscape. As time went on, however, the lead mines were exhausted and many of the miners moved on to other mining sites, especially California following the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848. Other miners stayed in the area to mine zinc, which was also abundant, but by the early 20th century the zinc mines were also being abandoned.

In the 1920s and 30s, many of the old cabins built by the Cornish miners were being cleared away for new development. Seeing this, a local resident named Robert Neal began planning a project to preserve as many of the historic structures as he could. Together with Edgar Hellum, a visitor who was also interested in preserving the buildings, Neal began to acquire and restore several of the old Cornish sites. Neal and Hellum also gave Cornish names to each of the buildings they restored. They called their first project, a one story stone cabin, Pendarvis. In order to support the restoration of other buildings, the Pendarvis cabin was turned into a restaurant serving authentic Cornish dishes such as Cornish pasties. The Pendarvis House Restaurant received wide acclaim, and helped finance Neal and Hellum's restoration of even more historic Cornish homes in Mineral Point.

Following the restorations, the Pendarvis historic site included six historic cabins built by English and Cornish miners during the 1830s and 40s. The Pendarvis cabin itself was built of locally quarried limestone and possesses walls that are 18 to 20 inches thick. Beside the Pendarvis house is the Trelawny, a two story cabin of similar construction. Nearby is the Polperro, a two and a half story house utilizing stone for its first story and wood for its upper floors. Another Pendarvis site is Tamblyn's Row, which consists of two adjacent stone structures that were built as separate cabins, but later remodeled into one home. Next to Tamblyn's Row is the Kiddleywink Pub, a two story wooden cabin that was later used as a public house.

The collection of buildings restored by Neal and Hellum was transferred to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1970. A year later, they were opened to the public as the Pendarvis historic site. In addition to the cabins, the historical society acquired several acres of land on the nearby Merry Christmas Mine Hill, the site of an historic zinc mine. Many remnants of the mining activity are still visible, but much of the hill has been restored into natural prairie. Visitors to the site can explore the hill on a number of foot trails. Meanwhile, the historic cabins themselves have been turned into a museum preserving the history of the region's mining industry and the lives of the miners who first developed the site. Many artifacts are on display in the buildings, including authentic mining tools and household items.

External links

* [http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/pendarvis/ Pendarvis Historic Site]


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