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.
Mabel Tainter Theater and Memorial
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.
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.
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
We got our information from the UW Stout page that
you can link to above.