By Kyra Price, UW Stout Harvey Hall News Service

 

A recent decision between the Mabel Tainter and current owner of the Wilson Place, Tim Dotseth means the Wilson Place will once again be open to the public for tours. These will take place on select days and times. Mabel Tainter Executive Director Lucas Chase said, “Tim Dotseth and I decided in December of 2023. There were comments about people wanting to get in there and get tours.”

 

The reopening is viewed as a fundraising opportunity for both the Mabel Tainter and Wilson Place. “We want to raise money to help restore Wilson Place,” Chase said. For many people who have not experienced touring Wilson Place before, this is an exciting reveal. “Menomonie has a great history, and we want to share that history,” Chase said. He believes the reopening of Wilson Place poses as an informative and transformative experience. 

 

Wilson Place Mansion is across from Jeter Tainter Callahan Residence Hall on UW-Stout’s North Campus. On the outside, it may just look like a yellow building with dark paneling that sits behind a metal gate. However, Wilson Place serves as a relic of historical Menomonie.

 

A 1999 Dunn County News article said, “Wilson Place is a journey through generations…  Dating back to the civil war era, this structure is filled with history… Wilson Place and its contents preserve a unique local and state heritage.”

Historical Wilson Place Mansion: Photo provided by UW-Stout Archives

 

Historical Wilson Place Mansion: Photo provided by UW-Stout Archives

 

The Wilson Place belonged to three generations of lumber barons: The Wilsons, the Stouts, and the LaPointes. It was eventually purchased by the current owners, the Dotseth family. Executive Director of the Dunn County Historical Society Melissa Kneeland says William Wilson was the first mayor of Menomonie and his family designed the home to look like a federal-style building. Wilson died in 1892 and the building was named after him.

 

The Wilson Place had originally been built on 22 acres of land in 1859. It has been remodeled and expanded since then. Kneeland said, “There were 11 marble fireplaces, stained glass, and gaming rooms.” In 1897 the Stout family took possession of the mansion. They were well known for their power in the booming lumber industry at the time. James Huff Stout was the son-in-law to the previous owner’s daughter, Angelina. Angelina and James remodeled the house together. “There were 22 servants, 17 marble fireplaces, silk furniture… For opulence, there was even a room lined with leather,” Kneeland said.

 

In the 1920s, the LaPointe family took possession of the mansion. George Wilson LaPointe Jr., grandson of William Wilson, made a living in the lumber industry too. The LaPointe family reduced the overall size of the mansion by two-thirds to better suit their style. Kneeland said, “The mansion changed from federal style to Victorian style.” Eventually, it was nearly torn apart by the LaPointe family to be more modern and contemporary. The inside furnishing and décor would still be preserved from its Victorian style, however.

 

The Dotseth family bought Wilson Place in 1974 and the building has been privately funded ever since as a museum since 1976. The spaces have been closed to tours. “They are proud restorationists,” Kneeland said. Kneeland said the Dotseth family originally sought to turn Wilson Place into a retirement home. “They saw their mission to preserve that local history. All that history would otherwise be scattered to the wind,” Kneeland said.

 

Wilson Place Mansion, 1992: Photo provided by UW-Stout Archives

Wilson Place Mansion, 1992: Photo provided by UW-Stout Archives

 

The Wilson Place now serves as a picture of the combination of historical eras. “You can see the transformation of the generations through the furniture and artifacts. It kind of tells the story,” Kneeland said.

 

The Mabel Tainter will help the space ease back into tours. “We will do tours about four times a year and in conjunction with other events. Like, for graduation when there are extra people in town,” Chase said. Chase noted that there are also plans for having tours on the 4th of July and dates around Halloween and Christmas.

 

Wilson Place is located at 101 Wilson Ct., Menomonie, Wis., 54751. The space will be open to the public May 4th and 5th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the Mabel Tainter website.

 


 

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