Historic Park Inn: Transformation of Guest Rooms, 2005-2012

(c) Mark Hertzberg

The Park Inn Hotel opened in 1910 with 43 rooms. Guests either shared adjoining bathrooms or used bathrooms down the hall from their room. The hotel lost its luster when the 250-room Hotel Hanford, with larger rooms and private bathrooms, opened four blocks away. The Park Inn was a hotel until 1972, when it became an apartment building. It was abandoned after 1989. The renovated Historic Park Inn has 27 rooms or suites, each with a private bathroom. These photos trace the transformation of the living spaces between 2005 and 2012. The original bedrooms doors were louvered, to allow air to circulate.

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2008:

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2010:

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2012:

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Wright on the Park has published two excellent books about the complex. Both books are well illustrated:

“The Historic Park Inn Hotel and City National Bank” (2007), Softcover, 90 pages, is a rich history of the two buildings.

“Wright Again” (2012), Hardcover, 76 pages, tells the story of the renovation of the bank and hotel buildings.

For more information:

wrightonthepark.org

Martha Huntington, second from right, the project architect, leads a planning session in the construction trailer in 2010. She died of cancer in 2011, just four weeks before the hotel and bank building reopened:

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Mason City, Part Two

(c) Mark Hertzberg

My visit to Mason City a few weeks ago was to attend the annual meeting of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. It was interesting to compare photos taken from the same vantage point between 2005 and 2012. I could not shoot the identical picture in 2010 because the construction trailer blocked the view of the bank building, left,and hotel from the park. The photos are from 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2012.

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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.