Located on the Pecatonica Route, Pendarvis is a place that Dale and I know well. As kids we visited Pendarvis and nearby Shake Rag Alley on school fieldtrips! The properties are beautiful and the history of the place is incredible.
During the 1830s and 1840s, the area that today comprises southwest Wisconsin and northwest Illinois was rapidly populated as miners came from across the United States and Europe to work the region's abundant lead deposits. Several mining boomtowns sprang up in the region, including Mineral Point, the location of Pendarvis. Many of the immigrants who came to Mineral Point were tin miners from Cornwall, at the southwestern tip of Great Britain. Many of the Cornish immigrants built simple houses 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.
In the 1920s and 1930s, many of the old cabins built by the Cornish miners were being torn down. Seeing this, a local resident named Robert Neal, together with Edgar Hellum, began to acquire and restore several of the old Cornish buildings.
Following the restoration, the Pendarvis historic site included six cabins built by English and Cornish miners during the 1840s and 1850s. The Pendarvis house itself was built of locally quarried limestone and has walls that are 18 to 20 inches thick. Beside the Pendarvis house is the Trelawny, a 2-story cottage of similar construction. Nearby is Polperro, a 21⁄2-story house using stone for its first story and wood for its upper floors. Another Pendarvis building is the Rowhouse, which consists of three adjacent stone structures. The first house in the row was built as a free-standing building circa 1841. The second house was also built as a free-standing building circa 1844 or 1845. The final house, built between the other two houses and connecting to them, was built circa 1852. 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.
If you find yourself on the Pecatonica Route this is a stop that is well worth your time!
We are pleased that the new website seems to be working well. We appreciate all of your support. As a small gesture of our thanks we recently sent a gift to all of our Patrons. Signing up through Patreon gives you access to patron-only content, free route downloads, discounts on other store items and more. Please consider becoming a Patron of Driftless Road Adventures by using the button at the bottom of the home page. Thank you!
Stay warm and safe!
Dale and Renee