Menomonie, Wisconsin History/University History

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The University of Wisconsin-Stout has a very colorful but yet, interesting past. It all started with James Huff Stout in 1891 when they opened the first addition of the school as the Stout Manual Training Schools. The school was short lived and was changed in 1908 to The Stout Institute. The Stout Institute lasted a little bit longer but was changed in 1955 to Stout State College, then in 1964 was changed again to Stout State University. Finally in 1971 the school was renamed to the more familiar name that we all know, University of Wisconsin Stout.

UW-Stout Memorial Student Center
UW-Stout Memorial Student Center

James Stout was one the the proud owners of the Knapp, Stout & Co. Company. The company itself at it's peak had over 2,000 employees from around Menomonie.[1] While Stout was assigned to work at a company in St. Louis and he became fascinated by the Manual Training that opened there. When Stout came back to Menomonie, he got support and started a program to build a manual training school here in Menomonie.

Stout Manual Training School[edit]

The school opened January 5th, 1893 in just a medium sized two-story building.[2] With its immediate success, Stout donated a larger sum of money to help complete the school and make it larger. The building was completed in early 1983, unfortunately it only lasted 4 years before it burnt down in 1897. The town sent Stout a petition that a new building be built, Stout accepted with the terms that a high school be built next to it. The town accepted his terms and by 1898 Bowman Hall was opened. Bowman Hall is the building we all still know today, as it still stands with its enormous bell tower. At the time the bell that was on top of the tower was a 7,000 pound bell that rung over the whole campus[3]. The name came from Clyde A. Bowman, who was a former faculty member who also helped design the building.

After Bowman Hall was built the Training school only had the three departments, mechanic arts, domestic arts and general art. All of which were built around having the most up-to-date equipment and supplies. Along with this, Stout also firmly believed in that students need to be both intellectually educated as well as physically educated. In early 1900, Stout paid for the school to build the gymnasium-natatorium which included an indoor swimming pool(was the first indoor swimming pool in wisconsin), bowling alleys, club rooms, Turkish baths and several other utilities. This building was constantly used until it was taken down in 1964. Back to 1899, Stout opened a program called “Kindergarten Training School”, this was a 2 year course for aspiring kindergarten teachers, this also started the teaching program here.

Stout State Institute[edit]

As the Manual school rapidly expanded and becoming more and more difficult to see the difference between the schools supported by the city and the ones supported by Stout. So, the city of Menomonie made The Stout Institute on March 20th, 1908 to help clarify any issues for support on either side.[4] The new Institutes initiative was to "provide facilities in the way of buildings, equipment, and teachers, through which young people of both sexes may secure such instruction and training in industrial and related lines of educational effort as will enable them to become efficient industrial, social, and economic units within their environment."(Huff, 1910)[3] By 1912, the enrollment at Stout climbed to over 500 and was in need of an expansion. So, they added a new addition onto the school called the trades building, later known as “Ray Hall” and an economics building and that will be known as “Harvey Hall”. Both buildings were finished by the end of 1916. With the addition of these 2 buildings, the physical size of campus practically doubled.

A picture of Bowmen Hall
Bowman Hall Today

Harvey Hall allowed for a few new degrees to be integrated into the college, in 1917, they added programs for household arts, industrial arts and several more.[2] During this time enrollment dropped by about half and was almost an all female campus because of World War I. For a quite some time the college campus itself did not go under any major changes. During 1927 Phi Omega Beta became the first fraternity on campus.[3] Then in 1932 Stout received full college rank and recognition. Shortly after that, the college also implemented for the first time a graduate curriculum for grad students. The college over the next several years would gradually increase in numbers up to 656 students. Until World War II, where at one point there was only 43 males enrolled. In late 1942 Antrim and Froggett hall were constructed to help house the females left back from the war and in honor of Sara Antrim.

After the war from 1945-1946 the enrollment would double[5] and the college itself was scrambling trying to find housing and faculty to accommodate for the great rise in students. To solve the housing issues they instated a veterans housing building, which included a sink, kitchen, living room and extra storage place. Also to accommodate for the lack of faculty, the school promised active students working on their doctoral degrees a job in their spare time. By 1955 the enrollment would finally break over 1,000 students.[3]

Stout State and UW-Stout[edit]

Stout State College[edit]

In 1955, the school board of Stout and the Board of Regents of the state colleges came together and decided that Stout should join the state college system. After the paperwork was all done Stout would no longer be known as The Stout Institute, but now called Stout State College. It took Stout a long time to join the system because as President Fryklund said in one of his speeches: “Stout has held to its two basic majors for more than 50 years despite occasional regional pressure that we expand into academic areas…”(Fryklund, 1955)[3] and many of the other board members thought that it would cause massive change to the college’s purpose and goals.

Shortly after Stout joined the state system, they added three new large additions onto the school. These buildings would be the new Robert L. Pierce Library, Memorial Student Center(now the Communications Technologies building) and a massive shop and classroom building Fryklund Hall.[4] All of which were completed by 1961, and in the same year President Fryklund retired after 16 years. Shortly after the implementation of these three new major buildings enrollment hit over 1,600 students. Over the next 8 years would grow to over 5,000 students, with the college growing so fast Stout decided to make a two-year “satellite college" called Barron County Campus in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. When it was opened it had about 400 students attending.[5]

During this time of growth they added a new program for liberal arts, applied science and technology. They also added several new majors to add on to the previous programs such as, hotel and restaurant management, vocational rehabilitation and several others. Also during this time the name was changed again to Stout State University. For the next few years campus stayed quiet and not much changed about the university.


The university’s name was changed one last time to University of Wisconsin-Stout, or more well known as UW Stout. After Stout joined the UW system a long of things would change and cause a lot of students to get frustrated and actually caused a sit-in resulting in a 30 hour closing of the school.[3] The protest was ended without anyone getting hurt or any violence. Over the next few years a lot of changes were going to happen to the board of administration and enrollment will drop drastically during 1970s. Also during the same time, six new buildings were added: Applied Arts Building, Library Learning Center, General Services Building, Heritage Hall (Home Economics Building), Memorial Student Center and University Services Building. With these buildings all being built would also be one of the reasons why the students protested because the tuition jumped because of the buildings that were built. For some time after the 1980s nothing really happened on campus other than a few student movements and the implementation of the abroad program.

External Links[edit]

Wikipedia UW-Stout


  1. Library History | Wisconsin's Polytechnic University. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 History of UW-Stout. (2014, January 10). Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 The Tower Yearbook (Vol. 1-79). (1910). Menomonie, WI: UW Stout.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Campus Commemoratives: Stories behind the names on UW-Stout's campus buildings : University of Wisconsin--Stout. University Communications : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive. (2007). Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Rich History | Wisconsin's Polytechnic University. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2015.