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

Chapter XXII: biographical,   pp. 247-958

Page 249

HISTORY OF DUNN COUNTY                         249
store. In 1901 he erected a building containing a gymnasium and natatorium and
employed two teachers to take charge of the physical education of the public school
pupils of the city as well as those of the training schools proper. This handsome
brick building, perfect in all its appointments, cost not less than $80,000. This
structure has brought about a second bond of close union between Stout Institute
and the city of Menomonie, the first of course being the manual training facilities
made possible for the children of its citizens. It was in quarters established here
through the generosity of Mr. Stout that the Commercial club first carried on its
manifold activities. These have become familiar to every resident of Menomonie,
and, as is well known, constitute an important part in the life of the community.
So diversified and so useful are the functions performed through the use of these
facilities that it is certain the city would not have been the Menomonie it is today
without them. The idea of such a club, to make use of the possibilities afforded
by the School of Physical Culture, originated in the mind of Mr. Stout. When,
in January, 1905, its organization was perfected, he was made its first president,
and he served as one of its directors from that time until his death. As an officer
and director of the club, T\Ir. Stout was always planning ways to increase its useful-
ness and add to the enjoyment of its members and their families. It was his wish
that it should be absolutely democratic in its spirit, and that policy has been scrupu-
lously carried out. Every reputable male resident of the city is eligible to member-
ship, and the greater the number who availed themselves of its opportunities the
better pleased was Mr. Stout. Free use was given the club of the second and third
floors of the building, and the luxuriously appointed reading and rest room, the
thoroughly-equipped billiard room, the card room and the bowling alleys afford
a source of pure enjoyment and recreation which could be obtained in no other way
and which are duplicated in few cities except of the larger class. The gymnasium
and natatorium are available to the members, and are much appreciated by those
wh, utilize them. Besides affording a recreation place for the men of the city, where
every influence is wholesome and ennobling, and a meeting-place for the civic,
commercial and industrial advancement of the city, this act of munificence on Mr.
Stout's part has had another and perhaps even more far reaching influence. The
social and cultural aspects of life in these quarters in its relation to the city as a
whole render the club most distinctive. The weekly socials, carried out during the
winter months, in which both young and old participate, and in which no lines of
caste are ever drawn either on the basis of wealth or fashion, have done more to
foster a fine family spirit among the people of the city than any other agency could
have brought about. In these affairs Mr. Stout was always one of the most enthu-
siastic participants whenever he was in the city. When obliged to miss one of them
he felt a sense of personal loss. His genial presence, his cheery smile for all, his
little thoughful attentions seeking to promote the pleasure of the others gathered
there, will always be remembered among the delightful and inspiring features of
these parties. they were planned by him as a means of increasing the happiness
of his fellow citizens. He helped to make them fulfill that mission, and it was no
doubt his wish that they be continued, in an increasing efficiency in the service
designed for them. The Woman's club and the Woman's Social Culture club, with
their many lines of broad, useful effort, were also indebted to the same opportunities
for a gathering place. In the educational development of Menomonie, in the
various ways mentioned, Mr. Stout invested upwards of $600,000. His benefac-
tions were bestowed without ostentation, and so quietly that to this day they are
scarcely comprehended by many people living in his home city. Nor were his
efforts confined to the fields of manual training, domestic science and physical
culture. He was deeply interested in all forms of education looking to the advance-
ment ofthe welfare of" the common boy and girl deprived of the advantages of
higher education. His ideal was to make the public education facilities of the
highest possible advantage to the masses. For instance, he was quite as deeply
interested in providing the country boy with proper agricultural training as the
town boy with industrial education. He was instrumental in the passage of laws
and the adoption of measures for the improvement of the rural district schools.

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