What’s In a Name?

Eds Note: I know that most of you Wauvillians have had a chance to read the rant I wrote for the City Pages, but I thought I would post it here for the benefit of our out of town readers. Yes, I am just too lazy to email my Mom. You will notice that you have to click on the “more” tag to read the whole thing, making it easier to skip if you wish. BUT even if you have read the piece in the CP you might want to skip to the end to see the little surprise I got as a result of this piece. It might surprise you as well.

Bill CoadyBy Bill Coady “Why,” an emailer to the Wausaublog wanted to know, “do we have such a tough time coming up with boffo names for the things we build here in Wausau?” The First American Center, Wausau Center Mall, One Wausau Place and now the First Wausau Tower. How many First Center Places can we have? This is indeed a very good question. Not only are the names pretty dull, but they also exhibit quite a bit of over reach, making us look like we have some kind of Napoleon complex. Hmmm…maybe that would be a good name for an office building. We definitely need to do something about our lexogeographical abilities if we are going to continue to fill this city with empty office and retail space.
On the Wausaublog, I persist in consistently and incorrectly referring to the First Wausau Tower as the “Dudley Building.” I do that because I feel that the “Dudley Building” rolls off the tongue much better than the real name and fits in better with the local, small city ambiance that marks us here in Wausau. I think it also reduces confusion on occasion. A friend of mine, upon reading a headline that contained the phrase, “Dudley’s First Wausau Tower,” groaned: “Oh no, he is not going to build another one, is he?” Maybe he is, but I am pretty sure that if he did, it would not be named “The Second Wausau Tower.” I don’t know why it is, but I have never seen a “second” anything. I suppose that somewhere there is a city big enough to have a Second or even Third National Bank, but I don’t see that happening here.There are good commercial place names here, some left over and some new. Washington Square, although not an open plaza as you might expect, is a fine example of Nominulis Americanus. Who could be more square than Washington? Never told a lie. Wooden teeth. Had a penchant for falling asleep everywhere he went. How unhip is that? The stolid name does belie the wonderful interior space and shops inside, but certainly “Washington Square” beats the heck out of “Wausau Center Square” or some other combination of the names in the first paragraph. Thank goodness for tasty leftovers that are still useful.

On the other hand, “The Palladian” is a hip, happening name from the 16th century. Proving, as if more proof was needed, that everything old is new again. Old stuff just gets funkier as it is recycled and “Palladian” is pretty funky. It is perfect example of the small town, “we wish we were Paris or Rome,” kind of name. It is yet to be seen, of course, whether what happens inside there will justify the hoidytoidy name, but I hope it will. “Palladian” is a Italianate style of architecture and the word comes from a Latin phrase which means something like “How many cubic yards of concrete did you need to keep this thing from sinking to the center of the earth?” Or so I have heard. I have also heard that the guys who originally worked on that tower in Pisa are between jobs and looking for work, just in case the Palladian folks need some help. But, as a name, I have to admit, “Palladian” is certainly an ear catcher, and a wonderful addition to the place names of our city.

I do hope Mr. Dudley will reconsider the name of his building before it actually opens. He could go with what I think his first instinct was, “The Dudley Brothers Building.” It has that “used to be a department store, but is now shops and offices” feeling that fits so well in a small city like ours. But if he really wanted to give it a name that would have that true “Up North” feel to it, he should consider this: “Dudley’s Place.”

Sounds like a perfect Wausau name to me.

OK, I am back now. Here is the scoop.When I was with Paul Schlindwein in the building, he mentioned that he had read the piece in the CP. It was clear he was building up to something, and I was gulping pretty hard. Finally he turned to me and said “Bill, why do you think the name of the building is the ‘First Wausau Tower’?”“Ummm…because that is what the sign out front says (I know, I have a picture!) and I am pretty sure that is what the Herald always calls it.”So then he drops the bombshell (at least as far as I was concerned). The building does not have a name yet.

“First Wausau Tower” he explained, is the name of the legal entity that is overseeing construction of the building, but officially the building has no name — yet, anyway. Perhaps soon the actual name will be announced.

I did want to put that here because if in the next few weeks there was a press conference naming the building, I didn’t want my dear readers to think that they were changing the name of the building. I especially wouldn’t want you to think they were doing so because of my little article.

We’ll just let the rest of the city think that. 😉

And I will probably persist in calling it “The Dudley Building” unless they really come up with a grand boffo name.


5 responses to “What’s In a Name?

  1. For whatever it’s worth, the inability to name things goes back many years. That’s why we go to baseball games at “Athletic Park” and watch hockey games in “Multi-Purpose buildings 1 and 2” at Marathon Park. Curling is in the “Curling Barn”. The main building at the fairgrounds is the “Exhibition Building” and it was flanked by the “Youth Building” until — in a recent eruption of civic creativity — it was renamed “East Gate Hall”.

    So do you still want to know why we call it the 400 Block?! 🙂

  2. You’re right Jim, we could better! What about Wausau Center Square? Nahhhh. 😉

    And this would be as good a place as any to mention that the Wausaublog had a banner week last week. Not only did we have our highest readership on Wednesday, but we had two of contributors in the CP this week. In addition to my piece and picture, Dino scored a regular gig there. Congratulations, Dino!

    And last week Jim was all over the annual travel issue, so kudos to Jim.

    I am very pleased to be in the company of writers and photographers such as these. Thanks folks!

  3. Thanks for the plug on the annual CP “Get Outta Town” issue. It is about my 9th year working on travel features for that edition and it’s always nice to be able to talk about something besides governmental or utility issues. 🙂

  4. Naming isn’t easy…. a brief history behind two of our names.

    Jackson Square (which is the office/apartment building that used to be the Marathon County Jail). The parcel used to front on Bellis Street, and also took up the block that runs from Jackson to Forest. We originally called it Bellis Square (the parcel of land was square).

    The front had a Bellis Street Address, the house and one wing of apartments is on Jackson, and the other wing of apartments on Forest. There was a lot of confusion with mail and other deliveries for the jail coming to our building. So, the front got changed from 111 Bellis to 911 Jackson, and now with three Jackson Street addresses, Jackson Square was born. Though to us, and our tenants… it is and always will be “the old jail”.

    Pied Piper Plaza on N. 1st Ave was a pretty easy one. The building was built in 1917 and operated for many years as the Pied Piper Shoe Factory. In house, we call it the Bethesda Building as they have been our tenants there since the 70’s.

    Other “in house” names for some of our properties: The Battery Building, The Dam Building, The Deutch Hall, The Day Care Center, The Red Shed (which is white by the way), the School Section, and of course.. The Sears Building.

  5. i read the whole article, but it was kinda old news because the author had aleady told me about it. dudley place is a very good name. it sounds posh

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