An $11 Play About a $10 House

Edgar Hellum (left) and his partner Robert Neal shortly after their restoration of Pendarvis

Edgar Hellum (left) and his partner Robert Neal shortly after their restoration of Pendarvis

In the midst of the Great Depression, Bob Neal and Edgar Hellum paid $10 for a crumbling stone house on Mineral Point’s Shake Rag Street. They not only managed to restore the building – thus starting a preservation effort in Mineral Point that continues today – but they converted it into a national destination restaurant.

The restaurant closed in 1970, but the impact of these two men continues. Their beautifully restored buildings now comprise “Pendarvis” one of ten Wisconsin Historical Society sites attracting thousands of visitors to Mineral Point every year. The Mineral Point Historical Society they helped establish is still going strong as is the Mineral Point Archives which they had the foresight to create.

In Mineral Point, these men are simply known as “Bob and Edgar.” Now, a wider audience is learning about Bob and Edgar thanks to Rick Kinnebrew and Martha Meyer of Evanston, Illinois.

As newlyweds, Rick and Martha visited Taliesin in Spring Green WI and heard about Frank Lloyd Wright, his adultery and the tragedies that followed. It wasn’t the feel-good love story the honeymooners were looking for. They headed to Mineral Point, toured Pendarvis, and found what they were seeking. They read through Bob and Edgar’s extensive papers at the Mineral Point Archives, researched the two men, and wrote a script based on the Bob and Edgar story.

The result is “Ten Dollar House” a retooled version of “The Bachelors” described as “a play about love and historic preservation” which opens this Friday, March 20th and runs through April 11th at the Broom Street Theatre in Madison.

Some of you may recall the staged reading of Rick and Martha’s clever screenplay “The Bachelors” at the Mineral Point Opera House. The story remains the same, but the name has changed to “Ten Dollar House.” This production was developed in partnership with Pride Films and Plays in Chicago and with Will Fellows, author of A Passion to Preserve It is directed by John Siewert and the cast consists of: Christopher Holland, Andrew Lonsdale, Bob Moore, Wendy Prosise, Donnovan Moen, Vanessa Vesperman

Tickets are $11.00 (just $1 more than Bob and Edgar paid for Pendarvis). For more information or to make reservations contact Broom Street Theater at (608) 244-8338 or go on the Broom Street website.

To keep tabs on the production, follow Ten Dollar House on Facebook.

Contributed by Don and Lisa Hay

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