Who Was Hanmer Robbins?

Being that I’m a teacher, I guess I’ve always been curious to learn about Hanmer

Robbins. Conducting class out of a log cabin, he was one of Platteville’s first teachers. He was also the town Superintendent of schools and contributed to the development of Platteville’s Normal School, a training school for teachers. Just 15 years after his death, Platteville built the Hanmer Robbins school, our first high school, I believe.

I set out today to find his grave. How fitting that he is buried just feet from John H. Rountree, the man I wrote about a few weeks ago (see photo below). After examining the stone, I realized Robbins died just months after Rountree. Their deaths must have marked the closing of a remarkable era for Platteville.

Robbins’ family gravesite can be found in Hillside Cemetery. I grabbed a 360 photo for you to help you find it for yourself: https://goo.gl/maps/rmyVjqtjbPu

 

John H. Rountree

Today’s photo is a modern twist on a founding father of Platteville. This is the grave of John H. Rountree, an early pioneer of Platteville. He leveraged his entrepreneurial spirit and civic leadership when he arrived in 1827. He purchased much of the land we know as the city today from the US government land office in Mineral Point, and then promptly mapped and promoted the village as a fine place to live. He started the first smelting furnace, sawmill, hotel, and store in the city. He was our first postmaster and even lead a militia to fight in the Black Hawk war. Additionally, he served in the Wisconsin State Senate multiple times. In order to keep this a post and not a book, I skipped many details. I’ll end with this –> His long list of accomplishments reveals a man truly invested in this land.

He is buried at Hillside Cemetery. I snapped a 360 photo of the graveside which would give you a good idea of where to see it in person –> https://goo.gl/MUCdqw

We might call ourselves the Pioneers, but I’m pretty John H. Rountree was the original.

130 Market Street

This photo is a fun twist on a lovely building. The Spa Boutique at BarberShop Rock resides at 130 Market Street, just north of city park. Built in 1908, this beautiful structure was one of few houses at the time to be constructed of cement block. You should stop by sometime and check out the inside! I’ve only had the opportunity to go there once, but I can tell you the inside is so very cool. Much of the historic character is still in tact, yet the space has this super fun vibe that fits the business so very well. They did a great job blending a trendy spa with the historic elegance of the building. 

This building reminds me that it is possible to renovate without destroying the historical character of a building, inside and out. The two ideas can coexist.

I think I need to buy an old building and get this out of my system. Hm….

B&B Gas Station

Every weekday morning I drive by the B&B gas station at the corner of Chestnut and Southwest Road, and I’m reminded of one of Platteville’s quietest historical landmarks.

 

Run by the Nodorft family, this little gas station has been operating since the 1930s and looks similar as it did many moons ago. In a world of constant expansion, I’m glad to see some things stay the same.

 

One of these days I’m going to see if I can remember how to use one of these pumps and pay with cash.

Small Town Love

When I moved down here I was so surprised that several communities have their own fairs. Where I grew up there was just one, the county fair. Down here individual community spirit is very much a fabric of our culture. Each event might have a little midway and almost always there are kids showing animals or other exhibits. Platteville hosts “Dairy Days” just a few weeks after the Grant County fair. Gosh, I think the Belmont fair might be after this one too.

I’ve lived here about five years and events like these are near and dear to my heart because they resemble a precious community spirits that each town possesses. Multiple generations engage in these events and, from what I gather, not much has changed. And that’s okay.

This evening, as the cool breeze dampened the midway, I was thinking to myself, “Yeah, I love this town too.”