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One hour east of St. Paul, MN, one can drive to Menomonie, WI, once a 19th century lumber mill settlement. By 1885 the town’s lumber corporation became one of the largest in the world. Several buildings recall the success of the lumber barons.
Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater was built in memory of Andrew Tainter’s daughter Mabel, who died as a young adult. Her nearly life-sized oil portrait hangs in the reading room today. The building also includes a lavish 313-seat Victorian theatre with Moorish features that were typical of the Victorian Era. It is a stellar example of a restoration of a vintage American theater. Also part of the restoration is an organ with 1,597 pipes. Groups still perform in the theater, and daily guided tours are offered.
The Wilson Place mansion was once a home of one of the lumber barons. Daily tours are also featured of a Victorian home with many of its original furnishings. During the holiday season 42 Christmas trees are decorated.
For a meal with uptown elegance in a rural setting, eat at The Creamery Restaurant and Inn a few miles south of Menomonie in Downsville, WI. If you feel like exercise prior to your meal, bike the Red Cedar State Trail to Downsville. In the summer, another option is to paddle a canoe down the Red Cedar River to The Creamery. Bike and canoes are available to rent at Trailhead Sports located near the Red Cedar Trail in Menomonie. In the winter, it’s possible to cross-country ski on the trail. Hiking on the trail is allowed any season.
In addition, there is a regional history museum, the Rassbach Heritage Museum, which is expanding rapidly and open during the summer season, May 1 – September 30.