Last remaining hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
The Historic Park Inn Hotel, the only remaining hotel in the world designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, re-opened on Aug. 8, 2011 in downtown Mason City following an $18.5 million renovation. The hotel's grand opening was held on September 10, 2011 which was 101 years to the day that the original Park Inn opened.
The 27-room hotel is attracting architecture fans from around the world. Besides restoring the exterior of the building and renovating public areas to their original appearance, guest rooms are equipped with modern conveniences to accommodate business and other pleasure travelers.
“It’s spectacular,” said Jean Marinos, President of Wright on the Park Inc., which owns the property and has overseen the renovation. “This is one of the biggest community projects ever completed in Mason City. We invite everyone to come and enjoy this beautiful building.”
The renovated hotel features larger guest rooms and many more amenities than the original. It comprises not just the original Park Inn – so named because it is across from Central Park -- but the adjacent City National Bank building, which was also designed by Wright. Originally the hotel had 41 hotel rooms, each 10 feet square, with shared bathrooms between guest rooms, or some bathrooms down the hall. In the restored hotel the original corridor widths have been maintained as have the original outlines of the bathrooms. Twenty-one modern hotel rooms are a part of the restored hotel by combining two original rooms into suites. Six more rooms were designed in the former office space of the bank building.
The facility also features nearly 8,000-square-feet of conference space, including a ballroom, restaurant and bar, as well as many of the original features built in by Wright, including a ladies parlor, gentlemen’s lounge, billiards room and the Skylight Room, which has Wright-designed art-glass windows.
Wright, who is considered the most famous architect in United States history, designed the hotel and adjacent bank as additional revenue sources for law offices he was commissioned to design for two prominent Mason City attorneys. The bank and hotel buildings were designed in the Prairie School style, which is typified by flat roofs, large overhangs and geometric designs.
The original hotel was described at its opening in 1910 as a model in cuisine and comfort. “It is a marvelously well-planned hostelry,” with all but one guest room facing the outside and featuring French windows, mahogany furniture, brass beds with box mattresses, and lavatories with hot and cold water, the Mason City Globe Gazette reported.
The bank fell on hard times during the 1920s farm crisis and, after a bankruptcy sale in 1926, was remodeled into commercial and retail space, drastically altering its original design. The hotel operated under various ownerships until 1972. It was converted into apartments and eventually was completely vacant, ending up on the top-10 list of most endangered historic properties in Iowa.
For many years, community leaders looked for ways and means to restore the architectural gem. It is one of six Wright-designed hotels. Five were built, but the Historic Park Inn Hotel is now the only one standing. In 2005, the nonprofit Wright on the Park Inc. was created and began raising funds. The project received $8.2 million from the Vision Iowa program, and $3.6 million in state tax credits.
Crews worked on the renovation full-time since January of 2010. Project architect Martha Huntington of Bergland + Cram in Mason City had to overcome several unexpected design challenges, such as replacement of foundation on the north and east sides of the bank building. A second floor that was added in the bank building had to be removed, and plumbing and mechanical work was complicated by a lack of space. Henkel Construction Co. was the project manager. The hotel is run by HPI Partners of Mason City. Interior designers with Bergland + Cram and HPI researched the interior of the original hotel and chose wall treatments, room designs and furnishings that reflect the original rooms yet offer as much modern convenience and comfort as possible.
One of the guest rooms is restored almost exactly as it was originally. The two-room “Historic Room” has a sleeping room with a brass bed and desk simulating the original, while the sitting area will have a couch, chair and armoire with a refrigerator, storage and other amenities.
Rooms have either a king- or a queen-size bed. Some have a sleeper sofa as well, and three are handicapped-accessible. There is also a bridal suite with a whirlpool, and a business suite.
Guided tours are available to the public with special appointments available for motor coach groups. View tour information.
For more information regarding this restoration project visit Visit Mason City's media room featuring video, photo gallery, fact sheet and media release. Also, learn more by reading about Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City's Prairie School Architecture. Reservations for the Historic Park Inn Hotel can be made by contacting 800-659-2220.