Ralph Owen's Eau Claire: The Character of a City, 1884-1909
Owen, Wisconsin. The Owen Park bandshell. Lake Owen. Wisconsinites and Eau Clairians speak the Owen name quite a bit, especially in the summer, when there’s a concert at the bandshell, or their kids are at the Lake Owen sports camp. John S. and his son Ralph W. ran the John S. Owen Lumber Company for almost 90 years between them. Through that company, Ralph’s father left his name all over the Chippewa Valley. And Ralph was a driving force behind some of Eau Claire’s leading institutions, including Luther Hospital, the Red Cross, and the public library. But he was also a kid. He and his friends collected (iron) bottles, hung out at the theater (in the days before the movies), tried to hypnotise each other, raced along the (wooden) sidewalks with pockets full of candy, and scouted the local parks on the hunt for strange plants and dangerous wildlife. As the son of a leading citizen, he was welcome to play in some of the city’s finest homes. He remembers it all in astonishing detail. Ralph Owen’s Eau Claire: The Character of a City 1884-1909 is the city of Owen’s youth. It is a portrait of a particular era and way of life. But it’s also a place you’d like to visit.
Author: Edited by Frank Smoot and Eldbjorg Tobin
Publisher: Chippewa Valley Museum Press