Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts
The Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts is the creative heart of Menomonie, Wisconsin. This elegant 1889 sandstone building has served as a theater, meeting space, library, events center and even City Hall. It anchors the community’s historic district and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Landmarks like these require special care, and Miller Dunwiddie’s architects drew upon our firm’s deep knowledge of preservation practices to embark upon a needed restoration and rehabilitation.
The building has witnessed weather and street life across three centuries. In order to prepare it for continued decades of service, we faithfully restored the ornate Richardson Romanesque exterior with sandstone sourced from the quarry that provided its original materials. New storm panels protect its stunning stained-glass windows, reconditioned in accordance with historic standards. Inside, the building weathered cultural transitions as society turned from vaudeville to movies and contemporary uses. Our team uncovered layers of history, lost artwork, and architectural detail — the kind of treasures that cannot be replicated. We were delighted to restore these features for today’s visitors. We also rehabilitated the theater seating and added accessibility improvements and safety features. A historic building’s original character and integrity is paramount, but subtle upgrades help make these special buildings last for future generations. The project has been featured by the National Park Service as an example of an appropriate addition to and renovation of an historic building.