New historic-themed benches are helping University of Wisconsin-Stout students take a load off their feet, thanks to a special design, applied learning and a donation.
Two of the five planned rustic benches have been finished and already are being used by students in the second-floor corridor of Harvey Hall, one of the university’s oldest and busiest classroom buildings. The building opened in 1916.
Fall semester classes began Sept. 4.
Each bench will be inscribed with one of the university’s five historic names. The first two represent the school’s oldest names, Stout Manual Training School and Stout Institute.
The other three, also slated for Harvey Hall corridors, will be inscribed with Stout State College, Stout State University and UW-Stout, with fonts appropriate for the time periods.
The benches are being made under the supervision of Professor Jerry Johnson in Jarvis Hall Tech Wing, the first two with the help of five students. Students also will help make the other three benches during the 2019-20 academic year.
They are the product of much collaboration. Former city residents Emma and Jerry Talen donated to Stout University Foundation to kick off the project, and retired architecture professor Courtney Nystuen designed the benches.
The wood was partially donated by alumnus J.R. Salzman, owner of J.R. Salzman Wood Company near Menomonie.
The Talens owned First Bank and Trust, next to campus on Main Street, from 1980 to 1995, a bank once run by UW-Stout founder James Huff Stout and now home to the Graduate School. When a new bank — now Dairy State — was built on the east side of town, their friend Nystuen designed it. He used old-style timber peg construction; no nails.
The benches also are timber peg and made from white pine, the trees that were the core business for Knapp, Stout lumber company in Menomonie in the late 1800s.
“We want to be supportive of Stout because it’s a great school,” said Jerry Talen, now of Chicago, who also was an adjunct professor at UW-Stout. Emma Talen died in 2018. The Talens also have a charitable trust and scholarship in their name with the Foundation.
Along with the engraved university names, the benches will have the Made at Stout and Salzman logos.
Each bench, more than 6 feet long and weighing about 200 pounds, features thick parallel beams, end caps and four legs. “They’re rustic, yet elegant,” Johnson said. “They have a sturdiness to them, a nice shape and are quite comfortable.”
One of the student workers is Meghan Cops, of Brillion, a senior technology education major. She enjoyed learning new skills during the process and contributing to a project with permanence. “If I come back to Stout, they’ll still be here,” she said.
Students use the new historic-themed wood benches on the second floor of Harvey Hall at UW-Stout.
One of the two finished benches bears the name Stout Manual Training School, the university’s name when it was founded in 1891.