Transformation in Mason City

(c) Mark Hertzberg

I first toured and photographed the Park Inn and City National Bank buildings in Mason City, Iowa in 2005. The buildings had opened in 1910. 

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When the bank failed, the building was remodeled and, in one critic’s words, desecrated, in 1926. Wright’s brick walls were replaced by plate glass windows when retail space and offices took over the first two floors of the building. Indeed, a second floor was inserted into the building, between the banking floor and the original third floor law offices.

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The bank building, left, and hotel in 2008.

The idea of restored buildings seemed remote then. I knew what architect Martha Huntington, the leaders of Wright on the Park and other civic leaders envisioned, but it was hard for me to imagine  I photographed the buildings again in 2008 and 2010, before seeing the dreams of Mason Cities’ visionaries realized when I returned a month ago. A photo from 2010 shows the dramatic change underway in the bank building as the retail space is removed, before Wright’s design is restored:

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I will be posting photos showing the dramatic restoration of the hotel in the near future.

 

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