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

Chapter XV: The Stout Institute, memorial building and library,   pp. 117-123

Page 117

The Stout Institute.-Twenty-two years ago there was established in Menom-
onie an educational enterprise that has spread the fame of the little city not only
throughout the United States, but also in Canada and lands beyond the sea. It
had for its unique purpose the training of teachers of household arts and of indus-
trial arts. The word "unique" is used advisably, for the idea was then new, and
even today there are no other schools in the country exclusively in its field of work,
To Menomonie come students from all over the land, and even from other coun-
tries, to get new ideas in the teaching of children and in the philosophy of bringing
the school into vital relations with the practical things in human living.
The germ of this idea dates farther back than the period above mentioned.
It was conceived in the mind of James H. Stout, state senator for 16 years, and a
member of the great lumber company whose activities resulted in the founding
of the city. Mr. Stout-to whom thousands of human beings owe a deep debt of
gratitude-had amassed a considerable fortune, but, unlike most men with similar
opportunity, he acquired money not for the sake of money but for the good that
money can do for the welfare of humanity. He came to Menomonie in 1889, but
before that had become interested in manual training. Almost immediately after
his arrival here he became active in that direction, and also in the cause of general
education, and as a member of the school board for some years he accomplished
some notable things.
At that time (1890) manual training was given in only two or three cities of
Wisconsin. After a conference and arrangement with the school board in Sep-
tember of that year, Mr. Stout set to work and in 1891 his first school, a two-room,
two-story building of 22x24 feet in ground plan was opened, offering to the boys
and girls of Menomonie courses in manual training and domestic science in con-
nection with the city school system. On the first floor were the wood-working and
mechanical drawing departments, and on the second the sewing, dressmaking and
cooking departments. This building, which stood just north of where Central
School now stands, was soon out-grown, and, having been moved, is now used by
the Agricultural School.
To take its place Mr. Stout erected in 1893 a large building costing $100,000
and equipped completely for carrying on many lines of hand work. - The motive
for this building was found in the St. Louis Manual Training School, though its
actual model was the Toledo Training School. It was of three stories, with a
ground plan of 59x137 feet.
The work proceeded, watched with interest by leading educators throughout
the state, but in 1897 there came a brief interruption, for on Feb. 3 of that year
the building was destroyed by fire. So much success had been already attained,
and so much interest created, that on the day following this disaster a petition was
circulated, and signed by hundreds of citizens, urging Mr. Stout to rebuild the
school. In response he offered to build a larger and better manual training build-
ing, to be fire-proof, and to cost not less than $60,000, on the understanding, or
condition, that the city should build a high school at an equal cost. This being
agreed to, a new manual training building-the one now in use-was erected,
costing with equipment about $150,000. This substantial and ornamental struc-
ture, with its high clock tower, is conspicuous in the Stout group, and, with the
rest, is a fitting monument to the big-hearted lumberman and statesman to whom
it owes its existence.
In 1901, carrying further forward his plan of complete and symmetrical equip-
ment, Mr. Stout built the School of Physical Training, containing a gymnasium
and a natatorium, and costing ccmplete about $100,000. Here for some years

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