Menomonie, Wisconsin History/Kulvich

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The University of Wisconsin- Stout is a public polytechnic university in Menomonie, Wisconsin. The University is a rich source of history in Menomonie, as it is one of the first manual training schools founded in the U.S. The school was founded in 1891 by James Stout and now has close to 9,000 students enrolled.

About the Founder[edit | edit source]

Portrait of James Huff Stout

On September 25th, 1848, in Dubuque, Iowa, James Huff Stout was brought into the world.[1] Stout was born into a fairy well off family, as his father was one of the members of the board of directors for Knapp, Stout and Co. Company. In 1889 Stout decided to move to Menomonie, Wisconsin, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. Stout joined the State Senate of Wisconsin and was also given the title of the chairman of the Committee of Education. Through these positions, Stout was able to go on to improve the state of Wisconsin in a number of ways. In May of 1896, Stout brought free traveling libraries to Wisconsin, dedicating the first one to his daughter who had died previous to the purchase.[2] The concept of free traveling libraries was fairly new when Stout brought them into the area. The purpose of this form of library was to provide the lower class with access to free literature on the condition that they cared for the books and returned them. Stout eventually came to own 37 of these libraries. Stout was also increasingly interested in improving the roads of Wisconsin to aid in an easy flow of farm products. He eventually came to pay for, as well as design, a road for Menomonie. Non the less, Stouts most well noted accomplishment was turning his dream of establishing a manual training school into a reality. In December 1910, at the age of 62, Stout lost his 7 month battle to Bright’s disease, which is a disease found in the kidney.[3] By the time of his death, Stout had invested 600,000 dollars into developing the Stout Manual Training School[4]. It is said that Stout had a “… seeming avoidance of praise.[5]” This explains why the accomplishments listed above, along with a number of others, are not as duly noted. No matter the prompt for his contributions, Stout is arguably one of the most influential men of Menomonie. Without his contributions, the institute would not be here today.

The Early Years[edit | edit source]

The Stout Manual Training School opened its doors to students on January 5, 1891, beginning a roller coaster of development[1]. The institution started off as a simple 2 floor building. This building consisted of 2 classrooms and offered manual training for men, and home economics courses for women[6]. From the very beginning, the institution was a success. Stout offered equal access to an education through his institution, a right he strongly supported. The manual training school was doing so well that Stout decided it was time to expand his dream and add a new, 3 floor, building which was finished in 1893. Unfortunately, in 1897, Stouts newest building was burned to the ground, almost putting an end to the institution. However, Stout decided to invest an additional 100,000 dollars into a new building, made with bricks versus the wood previously used, which opened the spring of 1898.[7] By this point in development, the manual training school provided mechanic arts, domestic arts and art, totaling to 3 departments of education[1]. The fact that Stout provided an art department was highly unusual for the period. However, he placed a high value on this form of education. He also valued physical education and provided the means for the construction of a gym, featuring Wisconsin’s first indoor pool, in 1900. In 1899, the school was one of the first in the country to make Kindergarten training available. By 1904, Stout manual training schools were recognized nationally, as well as internationally. In 1908 the institution had 243 enrolled students and was renamed Stout Institute. World War I caused enrollment to drop, but when it ended enrollment hit a new record of 589 students in 1923. 

Later Stout[edit | edit source]

Memorial Student Center building on UW Stout Campus

Stout has undergone many changes since its early years of development. After the death of James Huff Stout, the institution was passed around for years, changing its name multiple times. Finally, in 1964, enrollment was up to 5,000, a new peak thanks to the “baby boomers” generation, who were now seeking an education. This spike in enrollment enabled the school to begin the development of new learning facilities, allowing the integration of new programs. In 1971, all 13 Wisconsin schools that were providing college educations merged, creating the University of Wisconsin System[5]. Due to the merge, the institution was given its current name, the University of Wisconsin Stout, and educational quality jumped with the decrease in competition between schools. In March 2007, the school was named a polytechnic university. A polytechnic university, much like manual training, focuses on combining multiple skill sets through hands on learning to prepare students for the real world. Now, Stout currently provides an education for more than 9,000 students[7]. This is about 38 times the amount that it had in 1908. To rephrase, in 107 years the student body gained more than 8,800 people. UW Stout is still home to the building , previously spoken of, that was built in 1898 after the fire, and is now a historical building found on campus. The building is now called Bowman Hall, where thousands of students still attend classes. 

Effects on Menomonie[edit | edit source]

The University of Wisconsin has impacted the city of Menomonie immensely. The city’s population has spiked to 16,000 people and continues to grow each year as more and more students come to the University[8]. Before UW Stout was founded, the population sat at 1,082. This means the population has multiplied to roughly 15 times as many people. The university brings thousands of people into Menomonie. Whether its current students, prospective students, or visitors of some other sort, they contribute 293.7 million dollars to the area’s economy each year[9]. This increases the locals tax refunds, increases incomes, and aids in lowering the local governments spending. With a large student population, there are many people seeking jobs along with people seeking goods and services. This made Menomonie a promising location for businesses. Menomonie’s industrial base is large and only continues to grow and expand. UW Stout makes Menomonie a more diverse and cultural environment. The city of Menomonie places a high value and pride in the University and the way it has influenced the city. While Menomonie was a considerably large city before, its population and industries stands nowhere near what it has grown to be today.  

External Links[edit | edit source]

UW Stout Home Page

About Menomonie

Manual Training Movement

James Huff Stout

Free Traveling Libraries

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Interpreting the Dream A stout History. (1990). Menomonie, WI: University of Wisconsin Stout.
  2. Free Traveling Libraries in Wisconsin. (1897). Madison, WI:Wisconsin Free Library Commissioner.
  3. UW Stout News Bureau. (2010, December 9). A century gone: UW-Stout Remembers its Founder. Leader Telegram p. 3B. Retrieved from
  4. New York Time. (1910, December 9). James Huff Stout. Obituaries, Page 11. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Rich History (2015). Retrieved from
  6. Russell, J. (2015, August 28). Scenes of Yesteryear. Dunn County News, p. 1. Retrieved from
  7. 7.0 7.1 Governor Proclaims Dec. 8 James Huff Stout Remembrance Day. (2010, December 6). Retrieved from 
  8. About Menomonie (2009). Retrieved from
  9. Leader Telegram: Lindquist, E. (2014, September 7). UW-Stout Impact on the Community. Page 10A.