Wisconsin Historical Society

Pendarvis Historic Site
Mineral Point, WI

Client: Wisconsin Historical Society

Jean authored a successful National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Pendarvis Historic Site in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. The property includes four historic residential buildings that were built in the 1840s/early 1850s of stone, logs, or a combination of both materials, and stand on their original sites. A guest cabin and a workshop were constructed on the property during the 1940s using salvaged logs.

Pendarvis has statewide significance under National Register Criteria A and B for Conservation. It is a pioneering example of a historic outdoor museum environment in the U.S.—albeit on a small scale—that cannot be separated from the efforts of its creators, Robert (“Bob”) Neal and Edgar Hellum, who owned and operated the site from 1935 to 1970.

The whole concept of the outdoor museum was new in the 1930s, and the two men’s efforts to combine historic preservation with the creation of a tourism site celebrating Cornish heritage was unique. Bob and Edgar pursued a variety of interventions at Pendarvis—including restoration, rehabilitation, and reconstruction—all of which were tackled through in-depth research, experimentation, and consultation with Frank Lloyd Wright’s master stone mason, who guided some of the work.

Pendarvis also has statewide significance under National Register Criterion B for Social History. It is no exaggeration to state that the historic customs and recipes of the Cornish people (from Cornwall, England) in southwestern Wisconsin during the Territorial era, and most of their extant stone houses on Shake Rag Street in Mineral Point, would likely be lost if not for Bob Neal and Edgar Hellum. Bob and Edgar almost singlehandedly reclaimed the nearly forgotten songs, traditional foods, dwellings, mining tools, furniture, and historic photographs of this enterprising immigrant group, and in the process, preserved their legacy as expert miners of lead, zinc, and stone.

Jean undertook primary and secondary source research, wrote all aspects of the nomination, developed a table listing all buildings and their contributing/non-contributing status, and gave a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation to the Wisconsin Historic Preservation Review Board.