A Prairie-style gem like no other
You might not expect to find the last remaining hotel designed by lauded architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the cornfields of Iowa. Yet, the Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City, Iowa, is just that. Originally designed by Wright in 1909 as a hotel, law offices and City National Bank, the property is an impeccable example of the architect’s signature style. With strong horizontal lines, beautiful art glass in blue and green hues and thoughtful woodworking, the Historic Park Inn Hotel was one-of-a-kind when it officially opened in 1910.
Sadly, the hotel’s heyday was short-lived. After the 1926 farming crisis, the bank failed and the property was foreclosed on. Over the years it was divided into different offices, storefronts and even apartments until it was so derelict that it was in danger of being torn down. But in the early 2000s, the community came together and rallied around, saving the hotel. After an almost $20 million restoration, this Prairie-style jewel was returned to the destination that Wright envisioned and began welcoming guests again in 2011, more than 100 years after it first opened.
Views of Central Park
Like many of his projects, Wright designed the Historic Park Inn Hotel to complement its natural surroundings. This historic hotel overlooks the lush greenery of Mason City’s Central Park, which serves as a site for community gatherings like farmers markets, public art installations and more. Large picture windows give hotel guests and restaurant diners alike sprawling views of the streetscape beyond. Upper balconies also offer plenty of seasonal seating where guests can both see and be seen.
The Historic Park Inn Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Mason City, meaning that many of the community’s top attractions are within walking distance. Heading off on foot you’ll discover no shortage of public art, bustling local businesses and enough architecture designed by Wright and his contemporaries to leave you thirsty for more. Check out a couple of things close by the Historic Park Inn Hotel:
- You won’t be able to leave the real-life inspiration for Meredith Willson’s River City without humming “76 Trombones” to yourself at least once or twice. Head to Music Man Square to learn all about Mason City’s connection to the iconic musical.
- Then head next door to the Meredith Willson Boyhood Home to learn about the musical’s creator and the years he spent in north central Iowa.
- Find inspiration at the nearby Charles H. MacNider Art Museum. Located in a sprawling historic home, the museum has an impressive permanent collection of American art, including a number of the puppets and marionettes made by artist Bil Baird that appeared in “The Sound of Music.”
- Dive even deeper into Prairie-style architecture with a visit to the Stockman House, another of Wright’s designs just blocks from the hotel. On your way over for a tour, check out the other historic homes in the Rock Crest-Rock Glen District. It’s the largest cluster of Prairie School houses in the country.
- End your evening with a sweet trip with a visit to Birdsall’s Ice Cream. This Mason City institution is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Historic charm meets modern comfort
The hotel’s original footprint included 43 10-by-10-foot rooms and communal bathrooms, but the committee in charge of the Historic Park Inn Hotel’s renovation thought that modern travelers might need a bit more space (and their own bathroom). Today the boutique hotel has 27 unique room designs, meaning that you could stay quite a few nights in this historic haven and they would all be a little bit different.
Despite the adjusted footprint, the updated accommodations remain true to the original Wright design. With rich, detailed woodwork and stunning art glass touches, the rooms at the Historic Park Inn Hotel feel like stepping into a piece of history. Though historically inspired, these guest rooms have all the luxurious touches 21st-century guests have come to expect. During their stay guests at the hotel can look forward to heated bathroom floors, premium Serta mattresses and in-room wine fridges.
You can book the following types of rooms at the Historic Park Inn Hotel:
- Queen Rooms: The Historic Park Inn Hotel has a number of variations on the standard queen room. The hotel’s typical queen includes heated bathroom floors, an in-room Keurig machine, wine fridge and comfy club chair. For a room with a more scenic view, the hotel offers the Queen Park View, which looks out onto the adjacent Central Park. And for a little more space, the Queen Suite has all the same amenities with the addition of an extra seating area. Even though it is a historic property, the Historic Park Inn Hotel’s renovation made accessibility a priority. The Queen Accessible room has all the same historic charms with more space to navigate, grab bars in the bathroom and a roll-in shower.
- King Rooms: Similar to the hotel’s queen offerings, there are a number of king options available to book. The standard king room includes the same in-room features as the queen rooms with the upgrade of a king bed. King Park View and King Accessible options are also available for those looking for a scenic view or accessibility accommodations, respectively.
- Historical Suite: While the hotel’s footprint has been modified to allow for more modern conveniences, there’s still the chance to stay in a truly “original” room. The Historical Suite is a re-creation of what rooms in Wright’s original hotel would have been like, including a double bed, twin sleeper sofa and connecting bathroom with authentic clawfoot tub.
- Premier Suite Park View: Book the hotel’s roomiest corner suite for a getaway with all the amenities you could need. Enjoy a view of Central Park and spacious sitting area in addition to all of the hotel’s standard offerings.
The rooms at the Historic Park Inn Hotel are so plush and comfortable you may consider staying in bed all day. That is, until you discover some of the on-property amenities.
Markley & Blythe: Delicious dining isn’t far away when you stay at the Historic Park Inn Hotel. Named for the attorneys who originally brought Wright to Mason City, Markley & Blythe is an American tavern with nostalgic Midwestern dishes that perfectly complement the building’s architecture. Many of the restaurant’s offerings are hearty and meat-forward, from black pepper pappardelle Bolognese to short rib ravioli. Belly up to the bar or reserve a cozy corner table to indulge in rich dishes in a historic setting.
The Draftsman: Before you turn in, head to the Historic Park Inn Hotel’s basement bar, The Draftsman, for a nightcap. Named as an ode to the hotel’s famed architect, the bar has a cozy but classic ambiance where brightly patterned carpet, leather seating and billiards abound. Enjoy a variety of traditional cocktails alongside beer and wine selections as well as a curated menu of shareables and snacks like deviled eggs, pimento cheese and black truffle burrata.
Wright on the Park Tours: To manage the hotel’s extensive renovation, members of the Mason City community formed a nonprofit called Wright on the Park. While the heavy lifting of renovation wrapped up years ago, the organization still oversees the property and helps share its history. Today hotel guests and locals alike can take an hour-long, docent-led tour of the property to learn about its history, restoration and more.
Gift Shop: Stock up on all of your Wright-themed souvenirs in the hotel gift shop, conveniently located adjacent to the Wright on the Park offices.
Event Rentals: When the hotel was renovated, the former City National Bank space was turned into a space for events and private rentals. The ballroom, banquet hall and conference center is designed in the same Prairie style as the rest of the property and can accommodate up to 200 guests.
Parking: Free outdoor street parking is available in front of the hotel and in an adjacent lot.