5 Local Things Turning 100 Years Old This Year

Tom Giffey

Rainbow Arch Bridge, a downtown Chippewa Falls
The "Rainbow Arch Bridge" in downtown Chippewa Falls. Image: Creative Commons

The following local things and institutions came into being 100 years ago this year ... 

1. UW-Eau Claire

Considering that UWEC named its newest building Centennial Hall, you may have guessed the campus had a big birthday coming up. Indeed, UWEC turns 100 this year. What is now a university with more than 10,000 students opened in the fall of 1916 as the Eau Claire State Normal School with a class of just 159 young people who hoped to become elementary and secondary school teachers.

2. Gillette Safety Tire Co.

The name of this company and its founder may not ring many bells today, but you’re certainly familiar with their legacy. Raymond B. Gillette created his eponymous firm in 1916, and the next year it produced its first anti-blowout rubber tire. Tires soon became huge business in Eau Claire, and the company was bought out in 1940 by the U.S. Rubber Co., later known as Uniroyal. In short, no Gillette, no Banbury Place.

3. Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church’s roots date back to 1858, making it one of Eau Claire’s oldest religious institutions. The original church was built in 1874 and was replaced in 1916 by the current cathedral, which stands at the corner of Farwell and Lake streets. The neo-Gothic stone church, known for its stained-glass windows, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

4. Rainbow Arch Bridge

The Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge, a downtown Chippewa Falls landmark, carries Spring Street over Duncan Creek. The 93-foot, single-span reinforced concrete arch bridge is such a landmark that it is depicted on various city signs and logos. A long-awaited renovation of the bridge is slated for this year.

5. Harvey Hall

Menomonie’s UW-Stout may be a quarter-century older than its cousin, UW-Eau Claire, but one of its most prominent buildings, Harvey Hall, is the same age as UWEC. Originally the household arts building, Harvey Hall now houses the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Closed since 2014 for extensive renovations, the hall will celebrate a grand re-opening this fall.