Our trip to the town of Downsville was filled with interesting facts about Dunnsville Sandstone and the International Office of Odd Fellows — a fraternity that built the building that is now a museum. Our guide, Chuck, let you walk around the building and look for different examples of marks that different tools made which helped get inside the minds of the men who build it and see what their processes were. The sandstone that was used to make the building was quarried just a bit south of the building, close to the Red Cedar River by the men who built it, so I can only imagine how much pride they had when they went to the lodge. It was a very good experience to learn more about the communities around Menomonie.

– Valerie H.

I found Downsville to be quite fascinating. My initial thoughts of the city were that it was just a cute, small town, quite similar to the small towns near my home.  Through speaking with Mr. Chuck my perspective of the town began to morph. I began to appreciate the previously unnoticed elements of the town. As a group, we mainly focused on the International Office of Odd Fellows building, which is currently a museum. Being interested in history and antiques, I found our group banter to be particularly thought provoking. With my father working in construction, I have heard many stories about the erection of different buildings, however I have never heard about how a building made of sandstone was built. I can really appreciate the craftsmanship that went into all the details of the fraternity, especially the ornate front of the building.

Other interesting tid-bits were from the area surrounding the museum. First, a log is on display representing the circumference of red cedar trees that was cut down in the late 1800s-early 1900s. Another interesting structure was a jail cell that was originally inside a building from a nearby town. And lastly, Mr. Chuck shared a story about men in town taking a hand cart down the Downsville tracks to get to and from the quarry. Overall the experience was a positive one; it was very educational and enjoyable.

-Abby G.

After visiting the International Office of Oddfellows in Downsville, I thought that the practices used in constructing the building were very interesting. We were shown the various tools and techniques used in constructing the Dunnsville sandstone into pieces for the building. I’ve taken from this experience knowledge of architectural techniques and practices of the period. Learning the history of the area removed some of the feelings of being in an unknown place and made me feel more at home. Overall it was a very educational experience and I enjoyed the outing.

 -Orlaith G.

The trip to Downsville was very interesting and extremely educational. We had a tour around a building known as the I.O.O.F or International Office of Odd Fellows. At one time, it was a frat/sorority house, but now it is being used as a museum for the town. The building is definitely an important monument to the town not only from the content in the museum itself, but also because of the exterior. The building was built completely from sandstone and our tour guide, Chuck, taught us about how the building was made and the history of the sandstone industry. I really enjoyed learning about how the use of sandstone was so important to the town and others also. It’s crazy to think how much time it would take to create and entire building from hand. I’ll definitely have to revisit the town again in the near future.

-Sean H.

Our group took a trip to the lumber museum in Downsville, where we learned the interesting history of the building from Chuck of the Dunn County Historical Society.  Formerly, the building housed the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a benevolent fraternity with a corresponding sorority called the Rebeccas.  The building was constructed to replace the first building that had burned down, and it is still standing.  It was made with hand-chiseled Dunnville sandstone, which was quarried right in the Menomonie area.  Chuck explained the types of chisels used, then we got to look at examples of the marks the chisels left on the building.  It was really cool to see the evidence of all the work that was put into the building.  We were also made aware of places on the building that were less ornate because when the building was constructed, areas like the back and some sides of the roof were not visible from the road.  Not decorating these areas seemed like a sensible, practical thing to do.  I really enjoyed learning about this building’s rich history, because I think that knowing a town or area’s history helps to give it character.  I definitely feel that this area has a lot of character and appreciated the opportunity to learn about Menomonie and the surrounding area.

-Roseynn F.

In our “City as Text” exploration, I enjoyed learning about an old fraternity house named “The International Office of Odd Fellows”. The tour guide, Chuck, was very insightful and tied fun facts and questions into the tour. Chuck taught us how and why the building was created and he definitely showed pride and compassion in his job. Introducing unique tools and pointing out specific details in the structure are some of the things Chuck helped us with. After being armed with knowledge and understanding of this building, it was very clear that it plays a significant role in the Downsville community. Chuck described the building with the pride of a man who had built it himself, and to me that deserves great appreciation.

– Kayla H.

Memorable Museum –

For the event “City as Text,” my group went to Downsville. We saw the lumber museum, which was previously used as the “International Office of Odd Fellows.” Chuck, our guide in Downsville, taught us how the building was created. We learned that the builders got the stone they used from a quarry only a few miles away. They also used several different tools to give the stone a specific look. Chuck had us look closer at the building and notice the small details that we would have missed at first glance. It was nice to realize how much the people of Downsville value their history, because they put a lot of effort into preserving such a beautiful building. I learned a lot from this trip and I hope I will be able to see the inside of the building in the future.

-Emily G.


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