Frank Lloyd Wright in Mason City, Iowa

Mason City, Iowa has two major FLW tourist spots. Mason City is approximately two and ½ hours northwest of Iowa City, Iowa. Frank Lloyd Wright’s only existing hotel is located in Mason City along with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Stockman House.

According to the newspaper given out on the tour, which is called Wright on the Park, the building opened in 1910. The hotel portion was in the center and “above” on the second and third floors. The hotel section opened in November 1910. The bank was on the east side and opened in December of 1910. These first five “pages” are from the Western Architect, December 1911.

I am a HUGE fan of FLW’s architecture but not a fan of his writing style. It’s too florid for me. Surprisingly, his text, here, is coherent and readable.

This configuration stood for eleven years until the bank failed in 1921. The bank went into foreclosure in 1926.

This is from the Wright on the Park newspaper. Once the bank failed the bank portion was remodeled and stores occupied the space instead. The bank’s solid horizontal wall was removed and replaced with plate glass. The photo depicts what the building looked like after the remodeling. The hotel served as an apartment building between the years 1972 and 1989! Eventually, the city bought the building and the building closed.

When the hotel reopened in 2011 it looked like this. It underwent a $18.5 million dollar restoration.

In the FLW text above, from Western Architect, Wright said Mason City was, “A city wherein most of the buildings are rather cheerless in character, so quiet colored ceramic inlays were used to brighten the exterior.” He did this because “The eyes of a modern American community are starved for color, as a rule…”

Me, at the registration desk. I was buying a key chain, a refrigerator magnet and lots of postcards.

This window is in the lobby of the hotel.

This area was the original location of the dining room.

This skylight was found installed in a Mason City resident’s home. It was brought back to the hotel when the hotel was brought back from the dead.

These doors are original to the building.

The bank portion is now used as an event space for weddings, meetings or dinners.

This space is in the fourth page of the Western Architect article. You can re-configure it in your head if you put the stained glass window on the opposite wall. Notice the skylight above in both photos. The docent said this area is used for registration or check-in when it is used for events.

The Stockman House is so wonderful inside. I wish I could find a house similar to this to live in. It was just beautiful. Photographs don’t do it justice.

The living room from a postcard I bought at the Stockman House. I would toss that spinning wheel thing-y but everything else would stay if I were ever to move in.

One of the bedrooms from a postcard I bought at the Stockman House.

This statue of Frank Lloyd Wright is across the street from the hotel.

Many of the photographs in this post were taken by my friend Bob Graef. I’m always happy to go places with him because he’s an accommodating traveling companion and a great photographer.


Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.


Wright, F. L. (1911, December). City national bank of Mason City, Iowa. Western Architect, 17(12), 105 plus plates.

Wright on the Park. (no date). (no publisher).