• Historic Mineral Point Architectural Tours

  • These tours are designed to take you past buildings of historic and architectural interest. Mineral Point has a very irregular pattern of streets, many of them determined by the paths of early lead miners. You should follow the described routes carefully as they appear on the map. Unless otherwise specified, private houses are not open to the public. 

    The buildings selected will provide an introduction to the architectural history of the city. Each building is identified by its original name, the current address, the style it most closely resembles, the building material(s), and its approximate date. Then each description explains more about the historical and architectural significance of the building.

    The separate sections on Architectural Styles, Types of Stone Used in Mineral Point Buildings, and the Glossary of Architectural Terms, along with the descriptions of the buildings themselves will also assist you when looking at other buildings not on this tour. When you look at a building begin with trying to identify the large-scale features, such as the shape of the building, the roof-form, and whether the facade is symmetrical or asymmetrical. Then look at the architectural details such as the windows, doors, columns, etc. and note the material(s) used in the building. Also try to notice whether all of the features look original or if they have been changed at a later date. Soon you will find yourself looking at buildings in a different way and building your own knowledge of architecture.


    This area of Southwest Wisconsin is described as “driftless,” meaning it was not scoured by the glaciers of the last ice age that passed over most of the state. As a result, minerals at the surface of the land were not covered by glacial debris and the location of lead and zinc ores could be readily determined. This led to a thriving mining industry to which Mineral Point owes much of its beauty and wealth.

    Native Americans had been mining lead when the French explorer Nicholas Perrot visited the region in 1690, and in the 1820s an influx of white miners arrived to take advantage of the rich deposits of this valuable metal. Miners from New England and states to the south, particularly Missouri, did primitive, shallow surface mining. Some of them lived in holes they had dug for their shallow mines. These were called “badger holes” giving their name to Wisconsin, the “Badger State.”

    In 1836 the Wisconsin Territory’s first governor, Henry Dodge, was inaugurated and served his first term out of Mineral Point. Immigrant Cornish miners brought advanced hard rock and deep mining skills and a distinctive stone building tradition to the area. The lead industry waned in the 1860s, but zinc mining developed in the 1880s and flourished into the early 20th century. After new technology slowed the demand for lead and zinc, Mineral Point’s industrial focus turned to agriculture. The 1930s marked the birth of Mineral Point’s preservation movement, which developed on a larger scale in the 1960s when artists, crafts-people, and preservationists began to restore more of the old mining town’s limestone buildings. In 1971, Mineral Point was listed as Wisconsin’s first historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.