Today, the Louis Smith Tainter House is home to the Stout Alumni Association and the Stout University Foundation.
What began as a wedding gift in 1890, today serves as a welcoming point for friends and visitors to the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
The year before James Huff Stout founded his school, lumber baron Captain Andrew Tainter and his wife Bertha had a three-story mansion built as a wedding gift for their son Louis and his wife Effie, for approximately $75,000. The home was designed by Harvey Ellis, an architect known for his influence on 19th century Midwestern architecture, using a style termed Richardsonian Romanesque.
The mansion, south of the current Lake Menomin bridge, boasts an exterior of Dunnville sandstone, quarried just ten miles south of Menomonie. A slate roof with copper eaves and gutters originally capped the house. The roof has since been replaced with modern materials.
The interior displays the wealth of the family and includes extensive use of various exotic woods, such as Honduran mahogany, sycamore, maple and birch.
The couple lived in the home from 1890 until 1902, when Louis left to join a lumber company in California. Another lumbering family, the Wilsons, owned the home until 1940. The family intended to turn over the property to the Stout Institute, but the property was seized by Dunn County for $100 owed in back taxes.
The Stout Institute purchased the house in 1945 for $9,000 using funds from the Eichelberger legacy, an endowment from a wealthy Horicon, Wis., family. The building was renamed Eichelberger Hall and became a women's dormitory. From 1967 to 1974, the building served as office space for the vocational rehabilitation program. At that time the university determined that restoration would be appropriate and the building was entered on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now, more than a century after its construction, the building is known as the Louis Smith Tainter House, and houses the Stout Alumni Association and the Stout University Foundation.