Menomonie, Wisconsin History/dumbledore262

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The Mabel Tainter Theater is a memorial built in dedication of Mabel Tainter by her parents, Andrew and Bertha Tainter. Mabel Tainter died at the age of nineteen in 1886, then soon after her death the Tainter family began construction of the world-renowned Mabel Tainter Theater. The theater was designed by famous architect, Harvey Ellis. Construction was started in 1886 and was completed in 16 months. The building has been used as theater, library, and a Unitarian church throughout its lifespan. Later in 1890, the theater was renamed Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. Over the years there have been many suspicious accounts of “hauntings” in the building. Accounts of these hauntings have been taken from performers, guests, workers, and janitors of the building. Today the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts is an icon in western Wisconsin.

Mabel Tainter Theater[edit | edit source]

The Mabel Tainter Theater has stood the tests of time and still standing to represent a great history. The building was constructed in 1889 as a tribute to Mable Tainter who passed away three years earlier.[1] Mable, the daughter of Andrew Tainter died on cancer of the side when she was nineteen.[2] She loved everything about music and arts so it was appropriate to have the type of building made for her. The building was commissioned by her father who was a partner with the lumber barons in the area.

History[edit | edit source]

The Theater was built in the grand Victorian era and went all out without the expenses in mind.[3] The best materials where used; marble for the staircases, brass finishes, and leaded glass windows. The exterior made of huge rough cut Dunnville sandstone walls, the deep set windows, and dramatic arch entry all created a medieval feel.[3] The architecture of the building is awe-inspiring with how in depth and detailed the building actually is. The Theater is two stories tall and has a frontage of 80 feet with a depth of 90 feet.[4] Within the building as well is a colossal water powered pipe organ. With a total of nearly 1600 pipes and 28 stops, it is quite an eye piece. With buildings as big as the castle like theater upkeep and restoration is required.

Inside the Mable Tainter Theater

Today[edit | edit source]

The Mable Tainter Theater building has been restored where needed and being taken care of. The building is beautiful inside and out, and continues a great legacy that the Tainter family has left behind. Today it is used as a performing arts theater, performing plays for the public. The building has an amazing Victorian 251 seat theater within it.[1] Since the restoration has been winded and even redone to help the view have an even greater experience than ever before. This Theater has been a great place where great plays have been occurring for over a century, and will continued to be used and enjoyed.

The building has more to offer as well, such as a 19th century public reading room. Within it holding historical Wisconsin articles and photographs.[5] A great place to learn about the history of the theater and the city that encases it. The Theater also has gallery that shows great displays and workshops.[5] A great place that isn’t just about the performing arts. The Theater is a great part of the community and makes the city well known. With its rich history and ability to continue a legacy left behind by past and power families of Menomonie.

Controversy around Mabel Tainter[edit | edit source]

The building was created as a tribute for the passing of Andrew Tainter’s daughter, Mabel, but the facts around her death are sketchy at best. Some suggest that her death was caused by cancer of the side, or a ruptured appendix. There is evidence that goes against the ruled cause of death though.[6] This evidence isn’t enough to confirm what actually happened though. No one really can truly find the reason for Mabel’s death. The evidence that is brought up suggests that the death wasn’t cancer of the side, but a failed abortion.[2]

Andrew Tainter was partner of the Knapp-Stout Lumber companies that ruled the area. They are all families of great wealth and high social status. With such high social status members of the family are expected to be with other higher up families. Rumors have it that Mabel fell in love with a man who work for her father. With the huge difference in the social statuses Mabel’s parents refused to have the marriage occur. Over time though they ended up agreeing to the marriage and would allow it to take place.[2]

Before the marriage could take place the lumber worker mysteriously disappeared.[2] Some say he taken off because of threats, and others say it was because of a plan that by Andrew Tainter to take out his daughter's lover. Either way it is sure that it must have had something to do with the upcoming marriage. During this team rumor had it that Mabel herself, was pregnant with the lumber worker’s child. If the child would to be born, controversy about the family and the disappearance would arise. Andrew could’ve have not wanted the child to be born so he got his daughter to agree to an abortion.

Outside the Mabel Tainter theater at night.

This is where the cancer of the side could be a likely cover up for Mabel’s death. Speculation has it that during the abortion complications occurred causing the teenager to die. With the current evidence though, this is all speculation and could be completely rumors. It is important though because no one can really know the truth about a building or a family that had a huge effect on the community. Either way though it makes for great folklore for the city and deepens the great history around the area.

Whether the death was a ruptured appendix or a fail abortion, the Tainter parents felt guilty for the death of their child.[6] With Mabel being in love for such music and arts is the reason why Andrew wanted to build the monument for his daughter. He said “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.[5] He truly felt bad about his daughter passing and wanted to create something that would resemble his daughter within the community.

Hauntings[edit | edit source]

Within in the Theater today, like many historical sites it is said that Theater is haunted by paranormal spirits such as Mabel. Workers have experienced have had many occurrences with the haunting within the theater. The occurrences that are said to have taken place is the sighting of a lady in white, lights turning on by themselves, and disembodied footsteps when there isn’t anyone in the theater.[2] Such occurrences are still taking place today within the theater and no one really knows much about them.

The entities that may be haunting the theater is unknown to be sure, but there is some speculation as to who it is. These speculations originate from rumors and could be completely false. Some think that it may be Mabel herself who was latched to the building because it was in her memory and about what she loved in life.[7] This would make sense because it was in her memory that the building was built, perhaps she wants to cling onto what she loves. Mabel wasn’t thought to be ready to die so suddenly so that could also be the reason that she wants to stay within the building.

Another possibility for the entities that are roaming the Theater could be Mabel’s own mother. It is said that she may be roaming the Theater because it gave her great comfort for when her child died to an abrupt death.[7] Mabel’s mother loved her like any mother would so the passing of her child would cause great remorse and sadness. Her mother may just feel it is right to take care of a building that was created for the one she loved the most. Mabel’s mother doesn’t want the name of her daughter to be forgotten or in ruin.

See Also[edit | edit source]

Mable Tainter Theater[1]

Stout and About [2]

Portal Wisconsin [3]

Dunn History [4]

Find a Grave [5]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4
  3. 3.0 3.1
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. 7.0 7.1