Menomonie, Wisconsin History/Mabel Tainter Theater/delandt9139

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Higher view of the Mabel Tainter Theater Memorial

The Mabel Tainter Theater is a non-profit organization that connects with the community of Menomonie, Wisconsin to showcase spectacular talent from the arts. They have provided a full arts season for many years. This year is the theater’s 125th Anniversary. This theater has had a strong influence over the development of Menomonie and has interested many people by the history of Mabel, why this theater was built, and what haunted activity has happened in the theater.


The Mabel Tainter Theater is located in Menomonie, Wisconsin and was built in 1889 by Andrew and Bertha Tainter as a memorial for their daughter, Mabel, who had passed away due to a ruptured appendix at age 19 in 1886. At the urging of their pastor, Henry Maxton, Mabel’s parents decided to build a Theater for not only the good of the community, but also in tribute and memory of Mabel, because she loved the dramatic arts.[1] This Memorial symbolizes Mabel’s love of music and the arts. The Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts partners with many community organizations, including University of Wisconsin Stout, Menomonie Public Library, area schools, and the Menomonie Theater Guild.[2] The Mabel Tainter Center of Arts also owns the historic faculty of the original Mabel Tainter Theater.

Mabel Tainter[edit]

The Tainters were a very rich family. Miss Mabel was born December 6, 1866 in Wisconsin. Her father, Andrew Tainter, was a wealthy lumber baron and his second wife Bertha was a house wife. His first wife was named Mary Poskins Goose and they had 5 children. They separated 9 years later and Andrew received custody of all 5 children and moved to Menomonie, Wisconsin. Andrew focused all of his time and energy into working hard, so he had to hire a governess named Bertha Lesure in 1859. In 1861, Andrew and Bertha were married. Shortly after two of Andrew Tainter’s children from his last marriage died. Andrew and Bertha also had 5 children, but one died as an infant, another at age 8, and Mabel at age 19. This family had a lot of mourning and death happen in their family. Unexpectedly, Mabel died due to a ruptured appendix or cancer of the side on June 6th, 1886. Her parents were deeply sadden by her death and wanted to do a memorial for her love of the arts. 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.”[3]

In front of the Mabel Tainter Theater Memorial

History of Manifestation[edit]

There are rumors and talk about a female entity and other entities lurking the Mabel Tainter Theater. Some theories are that Mabel Tainter has latched herself onto the theater for her love of the arts and music. Another theory that people have is that the female entity is in fact Mabel’s mother, Bertha Tainter. The theory is that she might have latched herself onto the theater because it was for her daughter that she loved so much and the theater was the place that gave her comfort in her time of grieving. There has not been any deaths in the Mabel Tainter Theater specifically, so if there is a female entity, she did not die there and must have died somewhere else. There have been many stories of the spotting of the female entity. One staff member who was working one evening on the second floor of the theater, was surprised by a female entity dressed in white, floating right past him, going about her business.[1] Another story is that the employees will see a woman in white go up and down the stairs to the bathroom and stare at herself in the mirror with a curious look on her face.

There has also been other stories of entities that have not been the woman in white. For example, the employees have said that the sound equipment is being tampered with and strange lights in the library and storage room. Many people will ask if the Mabel Tainter Theater is still in fact haunted. The answer is yes, because there have been many eye witnesses to the strange things that entities have been doing inside the theater.

Architecture of Building[edit]

This 107 year old building is one of America’s top historical theaters and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. In 1889, the Mabel Tainter Memorial was built by hundreds of craftsmen from Scotland in one year and cost $105,000.00 to construct.[2] It has Victorian architecture features such as hand stenciled walls, carved woodwork, brass fixtures, marble staircase, 4 fireplaces, leaded glass windows, and a Steere and Turner Tracker pipe organ. The theater is still very functional and remains the same as it was back in the day. 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.[4] The exterior of the building is constructed of Dunnville sandstone quarried along the Red Cedar River southeast of the present village of Downsville. Harvey Ellis was the architect. He included the Moorish style of curved surfaces, combination of arches, and hand carved details framing the main entrance.[2] By uncovering the details of the building, it truly shows the history behind it all. The build has been restored but the same lights are still intact to this day and still work. The theater is lavishly furnished and extensively restored, the Tainter provides a home for the preservation and enjoyment of performing and visual arts in Western Wisconsin.[2] The new “Mabel” now able to offer memories to an even broader audience. A newly-constructed annex, artfully incorporated into the back of the building, gives it the accessibility it’s been missing in the form of an elevator, special seating areas and modern bathrooms as well as extra space. Every seat is just like sitting in the front row! Even in the balcony, you will be so close to the stage and the incredible sound.[2]


  1. Renfree, S. (n.d.). Historic Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts – One of “15 Spectacular Theaters in the World” (CNN TRAVEL). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from
  2. Winter, J., & Endl, S. (1999,March 22). The Mabel Tainter Theater and Memorial. Retrieved November 11, 2015, from
  3. Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater of Dunn Historical Society, WI. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2015, from
  4. Lewis, C., & Fisk, T. (n.d.). Mabel Tainter Theater – Retrieved November 11, 2015, from
  5. Carter, M. (n.d.). DCHS: Mabel Tainter Memorial. Retrieved November 11, 2015, from

External links[edit]

Mabel Tainter

Eau Claire

Haunted Houses

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