Tag Archive | Cornwall

State Historical Museum in Madison

11-16 &  30-13

Wisconsin State Historical Museum

The Wisconsin State Historical Museum is downtown on the Capitol Square. In the museum are four floors of great artifacts of Wisconsin’s past.

Lets start our visit on the ground floor.  The gift shop is here with many wonderful items.  At this time of year a special display is up called “Tis the Season”,  Evergleam Aluminum Christmas Trees of all sizes and colors.  Beautiful!

Evergleam Trees

Evengleam Christmas trees

2nd Floor- 1st Settlers and Native American Tribes

This floor has a great many artifacts from the Native Americans that had large settlements in Wisconsin before Europeans came.  This is a replica of a home lived in at a settlement called Aztalan, now a state historic site and park. It is in Jefferson county.

Aztalan house

French explorer Jean Nicolet may have been the first European to have seen Wisconsin in 1634.  Here is a painting by Edwin Willard Deming depicting what his arrival may have looked like.

Jean Nicolet 1634

3rd Floor – Early Wisconsin Settlement by Europeans

Life on the frontier, pioneers making Wisconsin their own. Mining of lead became a big industry. Also a large group from Cornwall, England brought their stone quarrying skills to Mineral Point, their Pendarvis settlement. That is now a historic site.  Some of the masons came to Madison and built a house for someone, still occupied to this day.

Cornish-Built House in Madison

The lumber industry was and still is a big part of Wisconsin.


4th Floor- Late 19th-Early 20th Century

The rise of politics and it’s influence on the citizens of the state, as well as the women’s Suffrage Movement nearly a century ago.

Suffrage display

Governor Bob La Follette fought for the state to have fair legislation and a “transparent” government.   We recently saw his house in Madison, still occupied.

Bob LaFollette Governor in 1900

Bob LaFollette House


We hope you enjoyed your visit,  remember to stop by the gift shop for a unique gift. It helps support the museum’s continued operation.

Madison crock

Mineral Point 2- Shake Rag Alley and Pendarvis

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In Mineral Point is the site of the original settlement of miners and their families from Cornwall, England.  They arrived in the 1830’s. The buildings have been restored and part of Wisconsin‘s vast Historical Society network.

Lets first visit Shake Rag Alley, now the city’s Art district. They offer art classes, put on plays, a very vibrant community.

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Now we are going to Pendarvis, which is at the other end of Shake Rag Alley.

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Pendarvis House9-27 986

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They offer three guided tours a day with a docent in period costume, or you can take the self-guided tour.  Since we got there a bit late for the first tour, we look around ourselves.  We were given a booklet by one of the ladies there who has been there for 30 years to lead us in the right direction.  We began our tour. We saw so many great artifacts from the mining operation, as well as re-creations of what their homes looked like inside.

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Also the history of the Pasty, a food brought over by the Cornish miners and still served in many restaurants in Mineral Point today.

Pasty history

Miner going down

The picture depicts a miner getting lowered down the mineshaft. Here is a bucket also.

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Just outside of Pendarvis is more to see, Merry Christmas Mine Hill, where we see more artifacts and where the mine shafts are.

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Wisconsin is called the Badger State, but not because of the Badger, an animal that also lives here.

Badger origin

Badger hole

Here is the mine building on the hill.

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Pendarvis is a great place to visit, come and stay the day!

Mineral Point- Where Wisconsin Began

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WatertowerMineral Point sign

Mineral Point is a city of 2,487 in Iowa county that has been honored with the title, “Best Historic Town” in Wisconsin by Wisconsin Trails. That’s not surprising once you look around at all the preserved buildings, especially on High Street.

Al and I began our city tour on High Street with breakfast at the Red Rooster Cafe.  The decor is adorable with roosters everywhere, even the wallpaper!

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Mineral Point’s favorite food is the Cornish Pasty, and I had one for breakfast. Yum!

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One of the customers, a retired police officer who was talking to us during breakfast, is friends with Philip Mrozinski, Executive Director of the Mineral Point Opera House. He called Phil and arranged for us to have a private tour!  WOW, we were so excited!  Al and I met Phil there at 8:30, it really pays to get up early sometimes.   What a beautiful building inside and out. It underwent a complete restoration that was completed April 30, 2010.

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Opera House backOpera House Front

Al Laurie Phil Mrozinski

He was kind to pose for a picture with us at the end of our tour.  Thanks very much for a great time!

For the past 130 years, the Mineral Point Dog has been standing guard over High street. It was a Cornish custom to identify a store with an animal statue, a bit like branding. It’s cast in zinc, one of the metals that were mined at Pendarvis nearby.


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Some history signs we saw.

We went back up to our car and went to a preserved mansion called Orchard Lawn/Gundry House. It was almost destroyed in 1936, but 11 people stepped in the save it. The Mineral Point Historical Society was born. It’s open today for tours, but all are welcome to walk on the grounds anytime.

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We hope you enjoyed downtown Mineral Point. Next stop Shake Rag Alley and Pendarvis.