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History of Goodhue County, Minnesota
Editor in Chief – Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Chicago – H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co. – 1909
Theodore B. Sheldon is a name that will always be remembered in Red Wing for what he accomplished during his long life here, as well as for the beautiful T. B. Sheldon Auditorium, which was built with the money which he left to be expended for the good of Red Wing. He was born January 31, 1820, at Bernardson, Franklin county, Massachusetts, not far from the village of Northfield, made famous by the evangelist, D. L. Moody. He received a common school education in the schools of his neighborhood, and at the age of twelve began work in a woolen mill in Greenfield, Mass., where he remained until 1840, when he entered the employ of a cutlery manufacturer. In this business he remained three years and then went to Springfield, Mass., where he obtained a situation with a tool and lock manufacturing company. Two years later he removed to Whitneyville, Conn., where he worked in a gun and rifle factory two years, later taking up similar work for a similar period in Windsor, Vt. He arrived in Red Wing in the autumn of 1856 and went into partnership with Jesse McIntire in the mercantile business. In 1860 he sold out to his partner and in the fall of that year built a warehouse and went into the grain business. Shortly afterward he took his clerk, E. H. Blodgett, as a partner, this arrangement continuing until Mr. Sheldon’s death. Mr. Sheldon was identified with most of the leading enterprises of Red Wing. In the early days he represented the steamboat lines and express companies doing business here, and was also agent for the Milwaukee road until the line was completed from St. Paul to La Crosse. He was largely interested in the First National and Goodhue County banks, being president of the Goodhue County Savings bank, conducted in connection with the latter institution. He was also president of the Red Wing & Trenton Transit Company when that company was organized for the purpose of operating a ferry across the river and a road over the island. In this capacity he continued until within a short time of his death. Mr. Sheldon was one of the prime movers in the Minnesota Stoneware Company, and also in the Red Wing Gas, Light & Power Company, the Red Wing Furniture Company, and the Duluth, Red Wing & Southern Railway Company. His business capacity was recognized by his election as president of all these companies. He was vice president of the La Grange mills, and the Red Wing, Duluth & Sioux City Construction Company. He was also associated with various other enterprises as stockholder or director. He served as one of the supervisors of Red Wing while the township organization was still in force, and after the organization of the city was a member of the council. In politics he was a Democrat, and his (Page 32) church affiliations were with the Episcopal faith. Of him it has well been said, “He was a striking type of the practical self-made manm, and his success in life was due to his energy, honesty, foresight and fine business ability. His death was lamented by a community in which every man, woman and child was his friend.” Mr. Sheldon died April 3, 1900, at the age of eighty years. T. B. Sheldon was married in 1848 to Mary T. Sturtevant, of Hartland, Vt. Five children were born to them, all of whom died. Mrs. Mary Sheldon died in November, 1891. In June, 1893, Mr. Sheldon married, at Milwaukee, Wis., to Annie L. Langton, who recently died. She was one of the committee with E. H. Blodgett and F. Busch named in the will to determine how the bequest of her husband should be spent to best benefit the city, and many of the artistic features of the Auditorium are the fruits of her suggestions.
T. B. SHELDON MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM
The T. B. Sheldon Memorial Auditorium is said to be the only municipal theater in the United States. It is the gift of the late T. B. Sheldon, who in his will provided that a certain part of his estate should be used in erecting a memorial to be used by the city of Red Wing. The trustees were Annie L. Sheldon, Elijah H. Blodgett and F. Busch. After consulting with the leading citizens of Red Wing, the trustees decided that the wishes of the doner and the desires of the people were best satisfied by the erection of a theater. The building, a magnificent structure of gray brick, was turned over to the city authorities October 7, 1904, and formally opened May 11. A tablet in the entrance bears a suitable inscription, and the interior is beautifully decorated in appropriate designs. The architect was Lowell A. Lamoreaux, and the builders, J. and W. A. Elliott. The Charles Betcher Lumber Company furnished the lumber, mill work and wood-carvings and the scenery was supplied by the Twin City Scenic Company. None of the trustees are now living. The present board consists of B. Gerlach, O M. Hall, A. P. Piercem, C. A. Betcher and C. E. Sheldon. W. A. Scott is the manager, succeeding Ralph G. Taber, the first manager. The aim of the board is to supply the city of Red Wing wiht the best of theatrical attractions. The amount received from the estate for the building of the auditorium was $77,641.67. The remainder was derived from the income accruing from this sum.