Living art, living history
Your tour guide: Joy Gieseke, Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce
Mineral Point, nestled in the beautiful, rolling hills of Southwest Wisconsin, is filled with a charm that has been calling people back for nearly two centuries. Our charm is all in the detailsand it's authentic. In an age of generic sameness, this architectural gem is a breath of fresh air. Historic buildings, working artists, quirky collections and prairie restorations are just part of the attractions that draw people to this community.
Ask anyone who lives here or those who come for repeat visits what the draw is, and you're bound to hear of the beauty that surrounds us: the rolling, tree-covered hills, the rock outcroppings, the mosaics of farm fields, the quiet streams and some of the most picturesque drives to be found anywhere. The hilly and winding streets of Mineral Point are often compared to small European villages and the pastoral beauty of the surrounding countryside bears a striking resemblance to rural England.
Many communities have art galleries--Mineral Point has artists! For many years, people have found Mineral Point an ideal place to live a life inspired by their passions. Artists and entrepreneurs unleash their creativity in buildings that have withstood the test of time. Potters, weavers, glass artists, painters, photographers, sculptors and woodcarvers create beautiful pieces in the downtown business and arts district. You'll find pottery fired in an old brewery, fiber arts in a former cheese factory, ceramic murals created in an old hotel. Mineral Point's artists may just be some of the most fascinating and talented people you'll ever meet. A day of shopping in Mineral Point is like none other because much of what you find is made in Mineral Point.
Gallery Nights are held the first Saturdays of April, June, August and December. Stroll the streets in a relaxed setting and discover the details that make this place special. Fabulous fall colors are combined with glimpses into artist studios during the Fall Art Tour, held every year during the third weekend in October.
A combination of history and art, Shake Rag Alley: The Mineral Point Living Arts Center offers hands-on workshops taught by talented instructors for people of all ages. It is truly a unique opportunity to experience the world of art in a magical and historical setting.
Mineral Point, the first Wisconsin city to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has preserved and painstakingly restored much of its architectural heritage. History is kept alive with tours that provide a glimpse back into the diverse lifestyles of its early inhabitants.
The restoration of Mineral Point is a fascinating story in itself. Bob Neal and Edgar Hellum came to Mineral Point in the 1930s with a passion for resurrecting historic buildings. Their work at Pendarvis set the stage for many restoration projects that continue to this day. Pendarvis State Historic Site offers guided tours through early miners' cottages. (You can read more about Pendarvis and even take a virtual tour in this PortalWisconsin.org feature story.) At Merry Christmas Mine Hill across the street, you can hike on paths marked with mining artifacts, and see remnants of early crevice mines and "badger holes"the crude shelters built by early miners and the source of Wisconsin's nickname as the "Badger State."
Take a tour of Orchard Lawn/The Gundry Estate for a view of a very different lifestyle in early Mineral Point. A beautiful Italianate structure built shortly after the Civil War, it was home to one of Mineral Point's earliest and most successful merchants. The story of this house continues to inspire all who enter its grounds. It survives to this day thanks only to a group of eleven citizens in the 1930s who virtually stopped a wrecking ball poised to demolish it.
Visitors to the Mineral Point Railroad Depot are transported back to a time when trains reigned and depots represented the heart of the community. The Depot, recognized as the oldest in Wisconsin and the oldest surviving structure of the Milwaukee Road, was completely restored in 2004. It, too, was a "near-death experience" that was prevented by the determination of citizens who recognize the importance of saving these valuable elements of our heritage.
The Mineral Point Opera House has just undergone a stunning transformation with a 2 million dollar restoration.Â This 1915 vaudevillian performing arts center offers live theater, concerts and movies. Â 2010 marks the opening season following restoration.Â
Every year, during the last weekend in September, we celebrate the Cornish heritage of Mineral Point and our connections to Cornwall, England, with the Cornish Fest and Celtic Celebration. Kiddleywink Pub Night at Pendarvis, the Taste of Mineral Point, Celtic music, dancing, games and unique Cornish foods are all a part of this festive celebration.
For more information about the community, call the Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce at 608-987-3201 or toll-free at 888-764-6894 (888-POINT-WI).