Menomonie, Wisconsin History/Kenziedenise13

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Mabel Tainter Theater

Mabel Tainter, daughter of Andrew Tainter, has been rumored to haunt her own memorial, the Mabel Tainter Theater. This is due to the unusual documentation of her death. Although this building is known for the arts of the community, there have been many suspicious accounts of “hauntings” at this memorial. These accounts have been taken from performers on and off the stage, guests, and even workers and janitors of the building. The history of Mabel Tainter has a lot to do with the accusations of her, and/or her mother, haunting the building that was built in her honor.  

The Life of Mabel Tainter[edit | edit source]

Mable was born in Wisconsin during the year of 1866 on December 6th. She came from a very wealthy family as her father, Andrew Tainter, was a lumber baron. He later became vice president of one of the wealthy lumber companies in the United States at that time. Her mother was Andrew’s second wife, a widow by the name of Bertha Lucas Tainter. However, she had several step-siblings from her father’s past marriage to Mary Poskins Goose. Among those were Julia, William, Charlotte, Thomas, and Elizabeth. Mary and Andrew soon went their separate ways due to a difference in their personal cultures. Andrew became the sole provider and parent for the five children. Due to his intense amount of work as a lumberman, he needed extra help with raising and watching his five children. He decided to hire an educated and young widow, who was none other than Bertha Lucas Lesure in 1859. They all moved to Menomonie, and soon enough, Andrew married her in 1861. During this time, Julia and William from his past marriage had died. Together, Andrew and Bertha had five children: Louis, Ruth, Irene, Fanny, and Mabel. Irene sadly died as an infant, and Ruth died at the young age of 8. In 1880, Mabel and Fanny were the only two children left at home. Mabel developed a strong love for the theater and the arts, which was something that made her into the person she was. Her friends and family recognized this and pushed her to further express her passions for this type of art. 

The Death of Mabel Tainter[edit | edit source]

Mabel suddenly died at the young age of 19.  Some say that she had “cancer of the side”, also known as appendicitis. That is also what is written on her official death certificate. Both of her parents were extremely devastated. Her parents were of the Unitarian religion, so their minister, Henry Doty Maxon gave them a suggestion. They decided to build a memorial in her honor. It wasn’t a standard “statue” memorial. They decided to build a giant theater in her honor due to her love of the arts as well as theater in general. Due to the suggestion by their minister, they then decided that it would also be the permanent home to the Unitarian religion in Menomonie, which would also pay tribute to Mabel is it was also her religion. However, there are rumors surrounding the “actual” cause of her death. Some say that she was forced into having an abortion by her father, which ultimately lead to the cause of her death. Unfortunately, there is no physical proof of this ever being the real cause, or reason, of her sudden death. Some even say that her spirit haunts her memorial building, which would be odd for a death that was caused by cancer. Usually, hauntings of places are caused by vengeance or a terrible death. The rumored cause would fit well with the standard rules of why spirits haunt certain places.

Building and History of the Mabel Tainter Theater[edit | edit source]

Her memorial was built with much thought and detail by Harvey Ellis, a local architect   . The memorial was finally finished in 1889. It was of an extremely intricate Victorian design built with luxury materials such as imported sandstone from Scottish masons. Harvey took advantage of the Moorish style by using large arches as well as some hand carved details. Every single part of the memorial was thought out with the use of extreme detail and thought. Inside, one will find delicate hand-stenciled walls and ceilings featuring handcrafted stained glass windows. Marble makes up the stairs and floors. Walnut and oak woodwork can be found throughout the theater, along with multiple brass lighting fixtures. Four fireplaces were also included in the precious design of the building. Not only was it used as a memorial, but the family’s pastor also used the theater for church services, his alter being on the theater stage. As far as for the rest of   Menomonie, it also served as a gorgeous community center, holding events such as plays that hold true to her love of theater. In 2007, a renovation was made to the memorial. It also gained another addition. This new part of the theater consisted of several fire and safety improvements, accessibility updates, and newer building systems that allowed the theater to still be used as a community center. These renovations and additions aided in helping it be a safer place as well as a spot for people to come and enjoy several different types of events and shows. The building itself is noted as the “best preserved Ellis building in the upper Midwest”.

Rumors[edit | edit source]

Some believe that she never really died from “side cancer”, with the real reason being from a forced abortion. In the beginning of this tragic rumor, it starts with Mabel falling in love from a logger, who also worked for her father’s company. The two were a part of very different social statuses at the time, with Mabel being from a fairly well-to-do family. Because of this difference, they were not allowed to marry each other as they would have wanted. Soon after this realization, Mabel became pregnant and the idea of marriage started to become a little more realistic and doable. Sadly, her lover disappeared without a trace, leaving her alone with an unborn baby that wouldn’t have a father. This predicament was something that the Tainter’s didn’t want getting out, as her family was extremely afraid of the shame it would cause them. Rumor has it that her  

Mabel Tainter

parents forced her to get an abortion to avoid all of this. Little did they know that that decision would lead to her young death due to complications of the procedure. This rumor would also add to the reason for the building of the theater. Andrew and his past wife, as well as his current wife, had several children throughout the years. Why would Mabel be any different than the rest of their children? Most that believe in this rumor claim the reasoning of the memorial was not only for the morning of her death, but from pure guilt as to what her parents did to her. This would also make a connection with the rumored hauntings of her spirit in her memorial building. During the recent years, workers and actors in the theater have reported several suspicious haunting experiences. Some claim they’ve seen a lady in white, while others claim that the lights constantly turn on and off, paired with footsteps throughout the theater when no one else it there. The local police have even gotten calls late in the night of the suspicion that someone is being seen in the theater. However, there is another idea that her mother haunts the theater in an attempt to keep an eye on everything that was built for her beloved daughter. There haven’t been any reports of any deaths in the building, which is why people believe it is either Mabel or her mother. One source reports seeing the “woman dressed in white” floating right past him, in tuned to her own business and duties. Other reports come from the women’s bathroom attendants, who say they’ve seen this same entity. Other parts of the theater also seemed to be getting messed with by someone who isn’t physically there. Although there are multiple reports of suspicions of any type of haunting, none have been threatening or violent.  

References[edit | edit source]

Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2015, from 

Mabel Tainter Theater – (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2015, from

Historic Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts – One of “15 Spectacular Theaters in the World” (CNN TRAVEL). (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2015, from

Dunn County Haunts and Folklore: The Mabel Tainter Theater. (2012, October 30). Retrieved November 12, 2015, from

November 12, 2015, from

External Resources[edit | edit source]

Haunted Houses

Mable Tainter

Stout & About: Dunn County haunts and Folklore

Mabel Tainter Memorial Building

Unexplained Research

Mabel Tainter Theater

The History and Hauntings Behind The Mabel Tainter Center of the Arts