This beautifully restored building is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and is a charter member of the League of Historic American Theatres.
The picturesque Mabel Tainter Memorial was erected in 1889 and presented to the City of Menomonie by Captain and Mrs. Andrew Tainter in memory of their daughter Mabel. According to the Tainters, "In erecting the Mabel Tainter Memorial Building it was our aim to accomplish that which would be of permanent value to the citizens of Menomonie, to contribute something toward the intellectual, social and moral advancement and well being of the community now and in the years to come."
Constructed of Dunnville sandstone, local and imported Scottish stone masons spent approximately one year from beginning to end of construction. Harvey Ellis, working for the Minneapolis firm of Leroy S. Buffington, was the chief architect.
The Tainter's wish has been more than fulfilled. This beautifully restored building is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, is a charter member of the League of Historic American Theatres, and is a designated Wisconsin historical marker site. Its Victorian architecture features intricate hand stenciled walls, carved woodwork, gleaming brass fixtures, marble staircase, ornate fireplaces, leaded glass windows, and a rare Steere and Turner Tracker pipe organ.
It was the Reverend Henry Doty Maxson, the Unitarian pastor, who convinced the Tainters to build the Memorial to serve as a meeting hall for the Unitarian Society and as a community center. Religious services were held on Sunday in the theater, with Maxon exhorting from the stage. As a public gathering place, the Memorial's lower level housed the Community Room, Women's Sewing Parlor, Young Men's Club Room and a Billiards Room.
From the beginning, the theater served as a road house for professional touring companies and later as a facility for high school and other local productions. Today, the intimate 261-seat theater still offers a full season of professional performing arts events featuring nationally recognized artists as well as outstanding local theatrical and musical talent. Members of the Unitarian faith are once again holding religious services in the Memorial
The building houses an authentic 19th century public reading room, with a collection of local and Wisconsin historical photos and articles, historic American theater books, a selection of current newspapers and periodicals, and a quiet area for reading and study. The gallery showcases artistic displays and workshops, and a store. The theater and meeting rooms are available for rental by the public.
For more information:
The Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts is a fully functional Victorian-era theater with a year-round performing arts season featuring nationally recognized artists.