The Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater is located in Menomonie, Wisconsin.  It was built in 1889 by Andrew and Bertha Tainter as memorial to their daughter, Mabel who died at the age of 19 in 1886.  It originally contained a free library, a reading room, a meeting hall, sewing rooms, young men's billiard rooms, city offices, general meeting areas, and of course, the theater.  At the time it was the most extravagantly decorated building in Western Wisconsin.  The MTM cost $105,000.00 to construct in 1889.  The construction was completed in one year.  It is made of Dunnville sandstone and reinforced with Menomonie red brick inside.  One hundred stonecutters worked with the six to seven tons of stone blocks needed to construct the building.  It still functions today in its original capacity. 
     The Tainters had a rich family history.  Andrew Tainter was born in 1823 in New York State.  The Tainter Family moved to Prarie du Chien, in Wisconsin, when Andrew was five.  He came to Menomonie in 1846.  Here, around 1850, he would make his fortune in the Knapp-Stout Lumber Company.  Andrew's first wife, Mary Poskin Goose, was a member of the Ojibwa tribe.  They were married for nine years and had three children who made it to adulthood.  Mary felt out of place in the white community and returned to her people, leaving her chldren to be raised by Andrew.  Bertha Lucas Lesure was originally hired to care for Andrew's children.  In 1861, Andrew and Bertha were married.  Together, they had three children who survived to adulthood, Louis, Fanny, and Mabel. 
     The theater is still fully functional and remains in its original splendor. It's seats are in four different sizes:  small, medium, large, and extra large--each one inch wider than the previous.  They converge into a fanlike shape.  The total original seating capacity of the theater was 204 seats on the floor and 109 on the balcony.  There are also an additional 18 chairs in boxes and in the back of the theater.  All the carved ornamentation is hand carved from white pine.  The original carpet of the theater was imported from India and made of silk and mohair.  It has since been replaced with wool carpet that is cut exactly the same as the original.  Over 240 productions were presented from 1890-1934.  The first production was Ermine in 1890.
     Many things about the Mabel Tainter Theater have stayed the same in the last century.  It is referred to as a hemp house because all of the backstage rigging is still controlled from the pin rail with rope.  It uses the same rope and pully system they used in 1890.  The floor has three trap doors.  The stars dressing room was upstairs through a door on the backstage wall.  It was quite large and had its own bathroom.  The feature player's dressing rooms were four individual rooms downstairs. In the main entrance there is a fountain.  The fountan originally had two silver cups, one for the females and one for the males.  It contained cool running water at all times.  The water was kept cool by a pulley and wooden ice box.  The pulley lowered large chuncks of ice into the wooden box  that was lined with water pipes.  As the water flowed through the pipes it was cooled.  The cooled water then flowed to all of the theater's drinking fountains.      The Mabel Tainter Memorial is a rich part of the history of Western Wisconsin.  To step inside it is to step back in time..

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Created By:  Jenna Winter & Stacy Endl on March 22, 1999
 
We got our information from the UW Stout page that you can link to above.