Thursday, December 17, 2015

Iowa's Prairie School Trove-- Part 2: Historic Park Inn

Mason City, Iowa, got its Frank Lloyd Wright connection when its leaders decided they wanted a hotel.  Attorney James Markley's daughters attended boarding school in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which had been designed by Wright.  he was so impressed that he recommended him for the project.

The combination City National Bank, Park Inn Hotel and law offices, done in Wright's classic Prairie School style opened in 1910.  It is the only remaining of the six hotels he designed and was the prototype of one of his most famous works, the long-gone Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

However, the bank fell on hard times in the 1920s, went out of business and became retail space.  The hotel struggled along until 1972 when it was divided into apartments.  It fell into such disrepair that it was put on a list of top ten most endangered properties in Iowa.

The nonprofit Wright on the Park Inc. took ownership and, after an $18.5 million renovation,reopened the whole thing in 2011.  There were detractors, but its reopening has led to a renaissance of downtown Mason City.

Hotel e\reservations are at a high level and you can take a walking tour of it.


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