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205 MAIN ST E | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

205 MAIN ST E

Architecture and History Inventory
205 MAIN ST E | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Mabel Tainter Memorial Building
Other Name:Mabel Tainter Theater
Contributing:
Reference Number:29383
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):205 MAIN ST E
County:Dunn
City:Menomonie
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1889
Additions: 2007
Survey Date:1978
Historic Use:theater
Architectural Style:Richardsonian Romanesque
Structural System:
Wall Material:Sandstone
Architect:HARVEY ELLIS
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Tainter, Mabel, Memorial Building
National Register Listing Date:7/18/1974
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation.

J IN THE PHOTO CODES STANDS FOR JAS. ELLIS WAS WORKING FOR THE FIRM OF LEROY S. BUFFINGTON. ANDREW TAINTER HAD THIS BUILDING CONSTRUCTED IN MEMORY OF HIS DAUGHTER. ORIGINALLY HOUSED A THEATER AND LIBRARY.

Andrew Tainter was born in Salina, New York in 1823. He made his way to the Menomonie area in 1846 where he quickly learned the lumbering trade. Tainter eventually joined forces with William Wilson, Henry Stout and John Knapp, to create the Knapp, Stout & Co., Company. Soon after, Tainter became the captain of a newly purchased steamboat, used to help send logs down the river. Then, in 1886, Captain Tainter's daughter died unexpectedly. To commemorate his daughter, Capt. Tainter hired Harvey Ellis to build and design a community center. The building was dedicated not only as a memorial to Tainter's daughter, but also as a reading room, free public library, community theater, and meeting location for the Unitarian Society.

The theater is a two-story, hipped-roof cube, built of local rock-faced gray sandstone, flanked by massive cone-topped corner towers, whose two-story arched window bays have thick stone spandrels and voussoirs. Heavy, too, is the low-slung arch sheltering the entry. Its archivolt is lushly foliated; its beribboned spandrels include the building date. Above the entry arch, triplets of engaged colonnettes rise between windows to support an ornate nameplate frieze that stretches across the facade. Higher still, a thick arch dwarfs a semicircular attic window and breaks through the roofline to culminate in a peaked parapet. Octagonal ventilator-turrets stand slightly behind, to either side.

The interior is as impressive as the exterior, and it remains in near-original condition, thanks to the restoration efforts of the Mabel Tainter Memorial Preservation Association. Dark woodwork dominates the reading room and lobby, and silver and opalescent-glass chandeliers shimmer overhead. In the splendid Gay Nineties theater, stenciled and gilded panels cover the ceiling and walls, and elaborate grillework surmounts the box seats, with their spindle-balustraded balconets. An ornate railing fronts the full balcony, facing the richly carved proscenium arch. The 313-seat theater retains its 1,597-pipe organ, still in working order.

The wealth that enabled Andrew Tainter to build the memorial came from his part-ownership of Knapp, Stout and Company, which from the 1850s until 1900 controlled and cut the valley’s pine. It also platted townsites (including Menomonie in 1859), attracting thousands of immigrants, and established mills, stores, banks, boarding houses, utilities, newspapers, and more. During the 1880s and 1890s, the company was the world’s largest timber concern, and many of Menomonie’s downtown buildings date from those years. In 1901, having depleted its own pinery, the company floated its last raft downriver.


Covenant/Easement: From 7/27/1978 to 7/27/2008. A 'covenant file' exists for this property. It may contain additional information such as photos, drawings and correspondence. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office.
Bibliographic References:THE DUNN COUNTY NEWS-MENOMONIE 4/27/1994. THE DUNN COUNTY NEWS-MENOMONIE 10/9/1994. MENOMONIE DUNN COUNTY NEWS 5/14/1995. MENOMONIE DUNN COUNTY NEWS 11/15/1995. Menomonie Historic District Walking Tour brochure, 2015. THE DUNN COUNTY NEWS-MENOMONIE 7/4/1890. Eau Claire Leader Telegram 9/16/1989. Cornell and Lake Holcombe Courier 9/17/1998. Elmwood Argus 10/7/1998. Menomonie Dunn County News 9/20/1998. Bloomer Advance 9/23/1998.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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