When I planned a trip to Mason City, Iowa, I had no idea what a fantastic hotel lie awaiting. The Historic Park Inn was a property designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is one of the six hotels he designed and built, and only remaining one.
With hip roofs, Prairie School stained glass, and horizontal lines, the property perfectly suits the landscape. It greets guests with a charming and upscale vibe.
Here is the story behind the beautiful property, a 27-room boutique hotel in downtown Mason City, and a review of my stay.
Thanks to Visit Mason City for hosting my travels. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased. To learn more about the area, check out the Mason City Tourism site.
The History of the Historic Park Inn
The original property that was built by Frank Lloyd Wright in Mason City, circa 1910, included a bank, law office space, and storage area. Wright created the design to match the horizontal lines of the Iowa and Midwestern landscape. He left during the project to begin his world travels with his lady friend and never returned to see the Mason City project completed.
Saved from the wrecking ball in 2005, a group of Mason City community leaders came together, created a non-profit organization under Wright on the Park, and purchased the Historic Park Inn hotel’s hotel portion $1. The state of Iowa kicked in some tourism funds through Vision Iowa Grant, and the organization was awarded eight million to get their project started.
Next, came the feat of purchasing the remainder of the city block, also built by Frank Lloyd Wright, formerly a bank. The seller put a hefty price tag on the run-down property, but the group did what they had to and bought the rest of the puzzle pieces. With a plan in place, they set out to redo the hotel to its original stature and bring it up to code for the modern world.
Item by item, things started to fit into place, with stained glass being found offsite and window rails found as someone’s fence in Clear Lake. The skylight was the most intricate project, but boy, is it gorgeous and worth every minute! The iconic Historic Park Inn project was completed in 2011, and the hotel officially opened 101 years after Wright put the finishing touches on the original plan. The restoration carried an $18 million price tag, paid in full within six years of completion.
The Premier Hotel of Northern Iowa
The Historic Park Inn hotel is a lovely luxury property sitting on the square in downtown Mason City, easily the most historic and noteworthy hotel in Iowa. Wright used many of the Historic Park Inn’s special touches as a first in this Iowa property and carried on these designs in his future works. One of my favorite touches is the two bronze statues of Mercury in the ballroom.
You can book a docent-led hotel tour for $10 per person through Wright on the Park Thursdays through Sundays. Check with the hotel for exact times.
Historic Park Inn Rooms
Room 300 is the crème de la crème at the Historic Park Inn hotel. As I walked through the door, I was in awe of the surrounding windows, with green stained glass elements and the usual Frank Lloyd Wright wrought iron rectangle designed bars.
Inside, an armoire held a mini-fridge and place to unpack my clothes. A velvet couch and two symmetrical chairs offered inviting areas to sit and a desk, a place to work. A 40″ LED Smart TV hung on the wall across from the King size bed made with 400 thread count sheets. Nightstands with Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature wall sconces were on the bed’s sides, and leather footstools fit perfectly underneath. Five lamps added additional lighting to the wall scones and two overhead cube-shaped lights.
Among the special touches in my room were monogrammed linens and towels, a Keurig coffee machine and necessities, a clock with charging station, and remote control bathroom shades.
The Park Inn’s bathroom was the crown jewel of the already fabulous room. Its soaking jacuzzi tub was a sensational offering, but the heated floors stole my heart.
With over 8,000 square feet of meeting space, it is no surprise that the Historic Park Inn is often used for weddings, parties, and meetings. A gorgeous Wine Room can be used for catered dinners, tastings, or cocktail parties. An elegant ballroom easily fits up to 175 for special events.
On the lower level of the hotel, the 1910 Lounge is a quaint space for having drinks. It opens at 5 PM Monday through Saturday and features craft beers from around the world, specialty cocktails, an extensive wine menu, and appetizers. There is also a player piano on the mezzanine that entertains guests and offers a small, but worthwhile rooftop access, great for photo-ops.
Dining at Historic Park Inn
Every great hotel should have an equally impressive restaurant, and the Historic Park Inn has just that. 1910 Grille is the five-star onsite upscale restaurant serving breakfast and dinner.
For breakfast, consider pancakes, French toast, omelets, or skillet meals. The 1910 Grille also has an à la carte menu, including fresh fruit, yogurt, bagels, and steel-cut oatmeal.
The dinner menu is loaded with tasty options like calamari, cheese boards, and spinach artichoke dip for starters. It also focuses on locally-sourced ingredients and weekly chef specials. I can attest that the Spinach Artichoke Dip with pita chips is delicious and not a typical cream-cheese laden dish. Pair it with fresh veggies for an extra $2.
For dinner at 1910 Grille, I recommend a risotto dish. The staff recommended both the Grilled Duck Breast and Hand-Cut Ribeye, but I wasn’t quite that hungry.
A Perfect Weekend Getaway
Not only did I love every detail about my room at the Historic Park Inn, but I had great experiences around the town. I enjoyed learning more about Frank Lloyd Wright. To reiterate, this is the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright-designed and built hotel in the world! What a cool place to visit and be sharing a part of this amazing man’s history.
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