Frank Lloyd Wright’s Historic Park Inn of Mason City
Something Old, Something New
by Mary Gottschalk
photo courtesy Wright on the Park
The Historic Park Inn is once again taking reservations.
The iconic piece of architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1910 as a hotel and bank fell prey to the economic repercussions of the farm crisis in the 1920s as well as to changing standards of comfort (private bathrooms came into vogue). Devotees of Prairie School design watched in dismay as the elegant brick facade was replaced with conventional storefronts and the building broken up into apartments and retail shops.
Restoration of this world-class architectural treasure was only a dream when a group of Mason City leaders set up Wright on the Park in 2006 in an effort to reclaim the hotel. With some $18 million raised through donations, grants, and in-kind contributions — plus a remarkable instance of serendipity (the group discovered the original windows’ metal mullions on a nearby residential fence and the original leaded-glass skylight installed in the ceiling of a private home) — the organization led efforts to bring the building back to its original design.
The endeavor required a monumental balancing act, according to Jean Marinos, president of Wright on the Park and former mayor of Mason City. The structural integrity of the building, compromised by the earlier modifications, had to be re-established. Because the hotel is using historic tax credits, the restoration had to follow Wright’s design but still meet modern building codes, requirements for handicap access, and customer preferences — such as the one for private baths. “We never doubted for a moment that it would actually happen,” says Marinos. “It’s a great economic development tool for our community.”
See before and after photos online at www.wrightonthepark.org. Make a reservation by phoning 800-659-2220 or visiting HistoricParkInn.com.
Wright on the Park
P.O. Box 792
Mason City, Iowa 50402