In the early 19th century, Wisconsin lead mining was more promising and attractive to potential settlers than the fur trade. Hundreds of immigrants poured into southwestern part of the state. Experienced miners began arriving from Cornwall in southwestern England in the 1830s. The Cornish settled in Mineral Point and throughout the Upper Mississippi lead region and constructed small, limestone homes similar to those they had left in England.
Mineral Point became a thriving commercial center that housed one of Michigan Territory's first land offices and served as a territorial county seat. The boom continued into early Wisconsin statehood, when zinc mining and processing became the dominant mining activity. In 1970, the Wisconsin Historical Society acquired the property. The following year it began operating the restoration as a historic site interpreting the history of Cornish settlement and Wisconsin's lead-mining heyday.