My first destination after packing up my life at the beginning of October was Mineral Point, Wisconsin which is my family’s temporary home base while the new house gets finished up. I helped my folks move from their three story 20’s era house in Madison to this two bedroom apartment over a flooring supply store on High (or “main”) Street Mineral Point just a few weeks before I left my own space and they kindly offered me a home base (both for my things, in a corner of their storage unit, and for myself in their office/guest room) for the fall. They have quickly fallen in love with their “main street” life in Mineral Point where the house under construction is something of a local celebrity and all the necessities of life (from Hardware Store and Ben Franklin to Japanese diner) are right at their fingertips.
Mineral Point is an easy place to fall in love with. It is full of beautiful limestone buildings ranging from humble cottages to proud Victorian storefronts. The town is now a small but thriving arts community with a main street – High Street – filled with gallery spaces and surrounding area liberally sprinkled with bed and breakfast establishments. The town has some serious history; it was first settled by Europeans in 1827, was the site of the inauguration of our first territorial governor and was a rich source of lead through the early 1800’s and then zinc during the later part of the century. The mineral resources brought an influx of experienced miners from Cornwall who (unlike many other settlers of the WI territory) declined to make drafty log cabins but overwintered in very simple dug out structures their first year and then built beautiful snug stone cottages a little later on. Their habit of living in those dug outs earned them the name “Badger” which is the origin of UW mascot, Bucky. Later good times around the turn of the last century also provided the town with a smattering of handsome brick and clapboard Victorian houses and it boasts a sweet main street and old industrial area that are still filled with local businesses. The overall effect is a charming place to live or visit. I find myself very motivated to go for little strolls around town with my camera.
As a result of its several boom times and recent relatively smaller population, Mineral Point has an amazingly high ratio of nice historical houses to blah 50’s, 60’s and 70’s era tract housing. There are a few exceptions though. The town has abandoned its beautiful old middle and high schools and replaced them with a boring brick pile in a former cornfield on the edge of town. And not quite all the houses manage to sport genuine stone facades. This faux stone porch addition seems a very poor cousin to the rest of town but clearly the owners didn’t want to be left out of the theme.