Harvey Hall Theatre added to registry of historic U.S. theaters

By University Communications
October 6, 2014
Harvey Hall Theatre

Photo: The theater opened in 1916 when Harvey Hall opened.

The city of Menomonie officially has a second historic theater.

Harvey Hall Theatre at University of Wisconsin-Stout recently was added to the registry of the League of Historic American Theatres.

The theater is one block from Menomonie’s other historic venue, the 1889 Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. The Mabel Tainter also is on the registry.

Harvey Hall Theatre, which opened in 1916, is at the east end of Harvey Hall, the university’s largest and second-oldest academic building.

To be eligible for inclusion in the League of Historic American Theatres registry, a venue must:

  • Have been built before 1953
  • Be deemed worthy of preservation
  • Be architecturally significant
  • Have played an important role in the history of the American stage
  • Be a performing arts facility

The theater was added to the registry after a site visit in 2013, according to University Theatre Director Paul Calenberg.

Harvey Hall Theatre underwent a $5.6 million renovation, reopening in 2011.

It is closed again for the renovation of Harvey Hall, which will include additional renovation to the theater’s lobby, according to Calenberg. The building and theater are expected to reopen in late 2015.

While Harvey Hall Theatre is closed, University Theatre is using the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts for plays, including “The Good Doctor” Nov. 5-8.

The renovation included reconstructing the stage extension and balcony and installing new seats, lighting, controls and sound system. The entrance, vestibules, display cases, box office, scene shop, control rooms and dressing rooms were updated.

Infrastructure updates were complemented with aesthetic changes. “It’s true to the historic nature of a 1920s theater. It’s very warm, comfortable and welcoming,” said Calenberg, who added that it also is the most state-of-the-art theater in the region.

The 600-seat theater originally was called Stout Institute Auditorium. Performers and speakers have included presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, actor James Whitmore, the Vienna Boys Choir and the Von Trapp Family Singers. Commencement ceremonies were held at the theater for many years.

Harvey Hall Theatre is one of 34 Wisconsin theaters in the registry and one of two within the UW System, with the other at UW-Madison.

Menomonie is one of four cities in the state with more than one historic theater on the list; the other cities are Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay.

For more information on the League of Historic American Theatres, go to www.lhat.org