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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin
(1925)

Chapter XIV: Further history of Menomonie,   pp. 91-116 ff.


Page 94

HISTORY OF DUNN COUNTY
lumber firm. The situation was better understood, however, when T. B. Wilson,
Sr., offered the pond bank as a gift to the city if the latter would accept it and
make it a public park. This offer was declined and the company, wishing to dis-
pose of the property, as they were practically through with their work here, sold
it to private parties, a number of lots being disposed of to individuals. Finally
the complete water power, including the pond and what was left of the pond bank,
was transferred to the Wisconsin Power Company. A few thoughtful and far-
sighted people now awoke to the fact that if the natural beauties of the city were
to be preserved and become a heritage for future generations, it was necessary to
take action at once in that direction.
It was over 20 years ago that on a certain day four prominent citizens of Me-
nomonie, namely, J. H. Stout, C. E. Freeman, J. C. Wilcox and W. C. Ribenack,
met on the street and the question of paving improvements came up and was
discussed. Mr. Stout remarked, "Well, we'll have a town here after a while," to
which Mr. Wilcox responded, "If we are ever going to have the town look like a
civilized place we'll have to clean up the lake front." The remark was well timed,
for the water front at that ti ne was onything but clean or attractive in appear-
ance. It had been uncared for and was defaced by unsightly shacks, sheds, dead
and fallen trees and other objects detracting from its natural beauty, and had be-
come a place that the better class of people were more disposed to keep away from
than to visit. At that time there was a tax assessment against the Wisconsin
Power Company (of which Mr. Stout was president) of 84,500 on account of pav-
ing improvements, and this matter having been mentioned on the occasion referred
to, Mr. Wilcox further remarked that it would be a graceful act on the part of the
Wisconsin Power Company to turn over the lake front to the city in consideration
of the remission of the paving tax. Mr. Stout was favorably impressed by the
suggestion and said that he would take the matter up with the board of directors
of the company. Three or four days later he announced that he had done so and
that they had consented to the proposition. The next thing was to get the city
to adopt it, and early in 1904 the Advancement Association presented it to the
city council. It had by this time received some publicity, and as it had been cal-
culated that the handling of the project by the city would mean a tax of about
849, a number of prominent citizens objected and ranged themselves in opposition,
presenting a petition to the council against it. The council thereupon turned the
matter down and the friends of the improvement scheme were forced to seek some
other method of carrying it through. The only way that seemed feasible was
through public subscription but in that case it was necessary that there should be
a visible and responsible organization possessing the necessary powers.
At a meeting held in the basement of the "Memorial building, J. E. Florin, an
attorney, told those present that such an organization could be formed under the
provisions of the Olin law, which had been passed to meet a similar situation in
Madison, whereby five or more persons could incorporate for the purpose of effect-
ing public improvements bv means of money raised through subscriptions. The
Menomonie Improvement Association was thereupon formed, Mr. Florin being
employed to draw up the constitution and secure the charter. The Woman's Club
took up the matter of securing subscriptions and did secure money or pledges to
the amount of about S1,500. But much more than this was needed-.4,500 being
required to secure the transfer of the rights to that part of the water front involved
from the Wisconsin Power Company to the Association, to say nothing of the
further sums that would have to be raised to effect the desired improvements.
But the purchase of the property was the first step necessary. The articles of in-
corporation were signed on June 1 and on the following day the first regular meet-
ing of the Association took place, when officers were elected, namely: Alfred Pills-
bury, president; Miss Stella Lucas and Miss Isabel Epley, vice presidents; Miss
Elizabeth Allen, recording secretarv; Mrs. F. F. MIorgan, corresponding secretary;
and Mrs. Kate Weber, treasurer. "J. H. Stout was chosen director for three years;
My~s. A. J. Josephson. director for two years:'and J. C. Wilcox, director for one year.
The articles of incorporation provided that the purpose of the Association should
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