Mineral Point

Richard Melnick creates the first podcast architectural tour in Wisconsin showcasing a town’s living history.

Richard Melnick creates the first podcast architectural tour in Wisconsin showcasing a town’s living history.

Vincent Price. Headless ghosts. Sainthood. All of this in the town where Wisconsin began: historic Mineral Point. In keeping with its role as a place of beginnings, it is also the first city in Wisconsin to inaugurate a podcast architectural walking tour. The free downtown tour was unveiled to coincide with Open Gallery Night, a quarterly event in which art galleries and local businesses are open well into the evening.

Audio portions of the tour include oral histories of Mineral Pointers and their memories of each of the important architectural treasures to be found on the tour. Portraits of each interviewee and photos of architectural detail are at each stop of the tour, as well as images from the Mineral Point Historical Society’s Glass Plate Negative Collection. Some of the highlights include the oldest surviving railway depot in Wisconsin, the grand 1914 Opera House and Pendarvis, the state historic site of Cornish miners’ cottages. Vincent Price? Headless ghosts? See for yourself.

Mineral Point is a charming old mining town in the lead region of southwestern Wisconsin. Unlike many such towns that were torn down or accidentally burned, Mineral Point has survived with its charm intact. Preservation of historic buildings began in the 1930s through the visionary efforts of Edgar Hellum and Bob Neal who purchased and restored traditional Cornish miners’ cottages, now the Pendarvis Historic Site, one of the stops on the podcast tour. The work of Hellum and Neal inspired others, many of them artists. Today, Mineral Point boasts nearly 20 artist-owned studios and galleries, numerous inns and B&Bs, and excellent dining. The community has drawn numerous accolades, including a 2007 designation by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the Dozen Distinctive Destinations and People’s Choice Awards for The Most Beautiful and Best Wisconsin Town. Travel writer Beth Gauper named it The Best Small Town within Five Hours of the Twin Cities.

You can download the podcast, as well as a map of the tour route, from the Mineral Point Historical Society website (mineralpointhistory.org). Handicaped accessible locations are noted and a transcript of the audio portion is available by request.