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From the files: New library is now open to the public

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“A message of optimism, of hope, of good cheer, and of loving service was brought to Menomonie Saturday — a message that will linger long with those fortunate enough to have received it.”

—Thursday, Jan. 27, 1916

In January of 1916, Helen Keller and her teacher, Mrs. Macy, came to Menomonie and gave a lecture at The Memorial. According to those who attended, Helen Keller spoke of the joy that life gave her. She was thankful for the faculties and abilities that she did possess and stated that the most productive pleasures she had were curiosity and imagination. Keller also spoke of the joy of service and the happiness that came from doing things for others.

According to the original newspaper article about the event, Keller imparted that “helping your fellow men were one’s only excuse for being in this world and in the doing of things to help one’s fellows lay the secret of lasting happiness.” She also told of the joys of loving work and accomplishment and the happiness of achievement. Although the entire lecture lasted only lasted for little over an hour, the lecture had a profound impact on the audience.

Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015

Downtown Menomonie is fortunate to have a diverse selection of shops, restaurants, and eateries. However, there is one thing that the downtown was lacking until August 2014 — a wine bar. Barrel Room is owned and operated by Rick and Mary Bygd. As community members, they saw a need for a place to go for a good glass of wine and just to hang out. As business owners, they saw opportunity in the perfect location for their endeavor at 320 Main Street, the former Ms. Ellaneous, near the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts and, as the couple observes: “right in the heart of where everything is. ... There’s so much energy and passion in downtown right now, we have a huge opportunity to continue to grow that.”

The builing in which they are located is indeed something to see. To create the atmosphere the Bygds envisioned, there was an extensive renovation process on the historic building. According to Mary, “Everything is original. The ceiling is yellow pine that probably floated down the river, thanks to the logging industry. ... The floor is all original as well.” The maple floor has been there for at least 110 years.

Wednesday, Jan. 23, 1991

Superintendent David Smette spoke to the Menomonie School Board Monday evening on the importance of making students responsible citizens. The talk led to a proposal that some type of recognition be given to students involved in community service. Smette said that in a fast-changing world — with new considerations arising from technology, immigration and single-parent families—it is necessary that students have a solid base to build on.

In addition, Smette stated “We are in a global society which demands that we work with and understand a variety of cultures.” Menomonie has an “excellent base, an excellent heritage and an excellent sense of community” to build on, Smette said. He warned, however, that roughly two students are suspended from school each week. Ways must be found to “get to” those students, he said. Smette passed out a quotation by Earnest Boyer that states, “Civic illiteracy is spreading, and unless we find better ways to educate ourselves as citizens, we run the risk of drifting unwittingly into a new kind of dark age.”

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 1966

Seaman Apprentice Roger L. Waite, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Waite, 206 24th Ave., Menomonie, completes rest and recreational visit to British Crown Colony of Hong Kong while serving aboard the attack transport USS Calvert.

James P. Jeatran, former Menomonie resident, promoted to sergeant in the Wisconsin State Patrol. ... Because of increased use of bank’s drive-up facilities at Sixth Avenue and Second Street, it has become necessary for the First National Bank to add another drive-up window.

The “Flying Dutchman” and his wife, Mary, are coming to the Menomonie area in the near future to begin plans for the opening of a riding school for girls on the former James Wildner farm, two miles southeast of the city. Atty. Carl L. Peterson was instrumental in getting them to locate in this community. The Wildner farm was sold recently to the “Flying Dutchman” by Rassbach Realty. The “Flying Dutchman” and his wife are no strangers to those who know a lot about horsemanship. In real life, they are Mr. and Mrs. Jan H. Janssen.

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 1941

It was a significant day yesterday, Jan. 21, for the Mabel Tainter Free Library, because 50 years ago — on Jan. 21, 1891 — the library first opened its doors to the public. Starting with a comparatively small family of book borrowers at that time, the Memorial Library now serves a wide family of book borrowers who live in all sections of Dunn County. The late John Steele, who died recently, was the first to borrow a book from the Library.

Certain bills relative to education that will affect Dunn County in one way or the other, if passed, have been introduced at this session of the legislature. Occupying the chief concern of educators and others is the bill for repeal of the teacher tenure law which has caused no little amount of change in the hiring of teachers throughout the state.

Menomonie Fire Chief J.E. Johnson recommends that three additional volunteer firemen be appointed to make a total of 20 volunteers, which is the maximum allowed by city ordinance.

Thursday, Jan. 27, 1916

A message of optimism, of hope, of good cheer, and of loving service was brought to Menomonie Saturday — a message that will linger long with those fortunate enough to have received it. This message came with the visit of Helen Keller and her teacher, Mrs. John Macy, and both had a hand in imparting it Saturday evening to a splendid audience that filled The Memorial. The wonderful girl who has so brilliantly triumphed over the triple afflictions of blindness, dumbness and deafness, gave a talk with her own lips on “Happiness,” and it will be remembered always as a piece of inspired teaching by those who heard it.

Steps were taken at a meeting of the school board Saturday looking to the ultimate erection of a modern school building in the Fourth ward to take the place of the antiquated Fowler and Coddington schools. A resolution offered by School commissioner Frank Pierce was unanimously adopted, which provided that a committee be appointed to find a suitable site for a building. In urging this resolution, Pierce said the old Fowler and Coddington schools were a disgrace to the city. They are unsanitary, it is impossible to heat them properly, and they are a constant source of danger.

Friday, Jan. 23, 1891

The Memorial Free Library and Reading Room were opened to the public last Thursday. It has required months of painstaking labor to arrange, classify and catalogue the books; Miss Farnham, the librarian, has been greatly aided by Mr. C.E. Freeman, who has freely devoted much of his time and labor to this preliminary work. The library now contains nearly four thousand volumes and there are several hundred more purchased that have not yet arrived. Catalogues, or finding lists, have been printed at considerable expense and will be ready for distribution in a few days. This valuable gift by Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Tainter will live in its influence for a good long after they have passed away. Truly, the people of this city and county have been greatly favored.

The special committee consisting of Messrs. A.R. Hall, Wm. Miller, J.H. Stout and R.J. Flint, appointed by the county board at its last meeting to visit various county insane asylums for the purpose of ascertaining the most suitable buildings, the cost of the same, the method of management and other important details, were engaged in that work several days last week. They visited the asylums located in Dodge, Jefferson, Iowa and Dane counties, and at each place were cordially received by the superintendent in charge and given every facility to gain all possible information in regard to the county system of keeping the chronic insane. In not a single instance was any evidence discovered that would tend to show it was not a good thing for the taxpayer as well as for the unfortunate persons who find a home in these institutions.

Saturday, Jan. 20, 1866

Judge Bundy is the lucky father of another boy, now three in a row. Get a homestead, Judge, and four new axes. ... The Speakership of the Assembly was given to the Northwest, in the person of Judge H.D. Barron, of Polk County. He will make a good Speaker.

It is hinted that a Festival is to come off soon, for — we do not know what. No matter, only so we get something good to eat. The ladies always apply the money to a worthy purpose. ... It is their own business; but the Pioneer’s courtesy towards the Press looks a little shady. How the Press takes it, we have not seen. It is not among our exchanges. Wish it was!

Not a pound of butter for sale in the whole town: a disagreeable fact, that. The printers live on sour kraut and buckwheat cakes. Tried pork — couldn’t stand it; tried it again, and sopped the pancakes in it. A greasy dose, that.

Jessica Koser, UW-Eau Claire Public History intern at the Dunn County Historical Society, can be reached at 715-232-8685, or


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