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 CITY NATIONAL BANK BUILDING (1909 - S.155)
PARK INN HOTEL, MASON CITY, IOWA (1909 - S.156)
 
Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by attorneys, James E.E. Markley and James E. Blythe to design a building for their bank. Markley made Wright's acquaintance while visiting his daughter during her stay at the Hillside Home School, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, run by Wright’s aunts, Jane and Ellen C. Lloyd Jones. During 1907 and 1908 Wright visited Markley in Mason City. Wright was commissioned to design both the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel in early 1909 and construction began April 1, 1909. When Wright left his practice and went to Europe with Mrs. Edwin Cheney in late October 1909, his chief draughtsman, William Drummond, continued supervision of the construction   which was completed in August 1910.  The Hotel was opened under the management of John Sundell.  The second floor originally held the legal offices of Blythe and Markley to the east and about 14 guest rooms to the west; 24 guest rooms made up the third floor.  In 1926 the Bank building was purchased by A. A. Adams.  It was drastically remodeled and converted to a clothing store.  The Park Inn ceased operations as a hotel in 1972. In 1973, the upper floors were renovated into apartments. The Park Inn Hotel and City National Bank buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. (Condensed from Full article.)
 
 
  HISTORY OF THE PARK INN HOTEL AND CITY NATIONAL BANK    PARK INN HOTEL & CITY NATIONAL BANK BUILDING 
 
   
  Date: 1910

Title: Wasmuth Tafel IV (Plate 49), Bank and Park Inn Hotel in Mason City, Iowa,

   
  Date: 1910

Title: Wasmuth Tafel IV (Plate 49), Bank in Mason City, Iowa,

   
Date: Circa 1910

Title: City National Bank under construction

 

 

 

Detail of left image:
City National Bank under construction

   
Date: 1912

Title: City National Bank, Mason City, Iowa 1912 (1909 - S.155).

Description: View of the City National Bank from the Northeast. The Park Inn Hotel can be seen in the background to the right. Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by attorneys, James E.E. Markley and James E. Blythe to design a building for their bank. Markley made Wright's acquaintance while visiting his daughter during her stay at the Hillside Home School, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Wright was commissioned to design both the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel in early 1909 and construction began April 1, 1909. Construction was completed in August 1910.

Size: Original 8 x 10 B&W photograph.

S#:
0114.28.0519
   
Date: Circa 1912

Title: City National Bank (far right in left picture)

 

 

 

 

Detail City National Bank (far right)

   
Date: 1912

Title: Park Inn, Mason City, Iowa. 

Description: Published by R.T. #21869.  Part of the City National Bank Building complex built in 1909. Very early image, before any signage or lamp posts. 

Size: 5.3 x 3.3

S#: 1912.00.1204

   
Date: Circa 1912

Title: Park Inn Rates

Description: Rooms starting at 75c, Dinner 30c

   
Date: Circa 1912

Title: City National Bank, Mason City Circa 1912 (1909 - S.155).

Description: "City National Bank, Mason City. Iowa." Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by attorneys, James E.E. Markley and James E. Blythe to design a building for their bank. Markley made Wright's acquaintance while visiting his daughter during her stay at the Hillside Home School, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Wright was commissioned to design both the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel in early 1909 and construction began April 1, 1909. Construction was completed in August 1910. Verso: "Bloom Bros. Co. Scenic America. Post Card. Bloom Bros. Co., Minneapolis, Minn." Divided back. "Correspondence Here. RT-21876. Address Here." Postmarked possibly "Aug. 5 1914."

Size: 3.4 x 5.4

S#: 0114.18.1015

   
Date: Circa 1912

Title: City National Bank, Mason City Circa 1912 (1909 - S.155).

Description: "12056. South Main Street, Mason City, Ia." City National Bank is on the far right. Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by attorneys, James E.E. Markley and James E. Blythe to design a building for their bank. Markley made Wright's acquaintance while visiting his daughter during her stay at the Hillside Home School, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Wright was commissioned to design both the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel in early 1909 and construction began April 1, 1909. Construction was completed in August 1910. Verso: "Pub. By The Acmegraph Co., Chicago." Divided back. This side for the Address." Postmarked "Sep 2 - 13."

Size: 5.4 x 3.4.

S#:
0114.21.1216
   
Date: Circa 1912

Title: Park Inn, Mason City, Iowa. Circa 1912 (1909 - S.156). "12048. Park Inn, Mason City, Ia."

Description: Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by attorneys, James E.E. Markley and James E. Blythe to design a building for their bank. Markley made Wright's acquaintance while visiting his daughter during her stay at the Hillside Home School, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Wright was commissioned to design both the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel in early 1909 and construction began April 1, 1909. Construction was completed in August 1910. Verso: "Pub. By The Acmegraph Co., Chicago." Divided back. This side for the Address. Verso has the same back as S#114.21 which is postmarked "Sep 2 - 13."

Size: 5.4 x 3.4

S#:
0114.25,0718
   
Date: Circa 1912

Title: Park Inn, Mason City, Iowa. Circa 1912 (1909 - S.156).

Description: Read Photo Postcard. Text on face: "Park Inn Mason City Ia - X185." Three signs read: "Rosebud - Cigars" (left). Written on the glass in window below: "Billiards." Center: "Park Inn. European." Right: "Café." Sign in window: "Café. J. H. Sundell." There is a waitress standing in the window. Verso: "Post Card. Correspondence Here | Name and Address Here." Stamp box on verso: " AZO ." Published by AZO. AZO manufactured cards between 1910 to 1930. Real photo postcard.

Size: 5.4 x 3.4

S#:
0114.26,0718
   
Date: Circa 1914

Title: Park Inn

   
Date: Circa 1915

Title: Park Inn, Mason City, Ia.

Description: Published by E.C. Kropp, Plate 6072.  Part of the City National Bank Building complex built in 1909. Very early image, signage installed, but before lamp posts were installed in the street.

Size: 5.5 x 3.5

S#: 0128.08.0109

   
Date: Circa 1915

Title: North Main St., Mason City, Ia.

Description: City National Bank (on left)

 

 

Detail: North Main St., Mason City, Ia.
City National Bank (on left)

   
Date: Circa 1915

Title: South Main St., Mason City, Ia. City National Bank (on left),

   

Detail of left image: City National Bank

 

Detail of left image: Large vase atop pedestal

Date: Circa 1915

Title: City National Bank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
Date:

Title: City National Bank Interior

 

   
Date: Circa 1915-1920s

Title: Park Inn

 

 

Park Inn Circa 1915-1920s Detail

   
Date: Circa 1915-1920

Title: Park Inn Hotel (1909 - S.155)

Description: "Park Inn Hotel Coffee Shop, Mason City, Iowa, Phone 289. ‘Air Conditioned’, Park Inn, Lounge, Café. Mason City’s Finest. Close cover before striking. The Ohio Match Co., Wadsworth Ohio." The Ohio Match Co. was founded in 1895. It became the largest match producer in the world, producing 300 million wooden and paper matches a day. The Ohio facility covered 18 acres. In 1928 the company was purchased by Diamond Match Co. The first telephone service was installed in Mason City in 1878. An ad dated Oct 14, 1915 listed the First National Bank Building phone as 289. Other businesses also listed the same number. Early phone systems had an operator that would manually connect the call to the recipient via a switch board. Includes one photograph. Printed one side.

Size: 1.5 x 4.

S#: 0128.12.0712

   
Date: 1918

Title: City National Bank

 

   
Date: Circa 1919

Title: Letterhead. The City Trust & Savings Bank, Mason City, Iowa. Circa 1919.

Description: W. V. Escher, President. Hugh M. Gilmore, Vice President. Ralph Lloyd Jones, Cashier. Printed over in a thick black line (J. F. Shaible, President. F. H. Cotton, Vice President). Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned in 1909 by attorneys, James E. E. Markley and James E. Blythe to design a building for their bank. Records indicate that City Trust & Savings Bank was established in 1917, and that in 1919, W. V. Escher was President, H. M. Gilmore was V.P. James Blythe was a Director of the Bank. Of interest is the illustration. It shows the older original building to the left, that was there when the City National Bank Building was built. "City Trust and Savings Bank" can be seen above the entrance. But it does not show the Park Inn to the right. The "Journal of the American Bankers Association" July 1918 - June 1919, indicates that W. V. Escher was elected president City National Bank succeeding James E. Blythe, and J. A. Parden was appointed cashier succeeding J. F. Shaible. W. V. Escher was also elected president of the City Trust and Savings Bank succeeding J. F. Shaible. With the Farm Crisis in the early 1920s, banks failed all across the state of Iowa. City National Bank was among those forced into bankruptcy, resulting in the sale of the bank and its conversion into retail and office space. In 1926, the building was purchased by A. A. Adams, and renamed the Weir Building. Printed on a warm gray stock with the watermark "Commerce Bond". Two sheets.

Size: 10.9 x 8.4

S#: 0141.06.0413, 0141.07.0413

   
Date: Circa 1920

Title: Letterhead. The City National Bank & The City Trust & Savings Bank, Mason City, Iowa. Circa 1920.

Description: E. G.. Dunn, President. Hugh M. Gilmore and J. A. Parden, Vice President. R. P. Palmer, Cashier. C. E. Brooks, L. W. Sherman, and C. I. Snyder, Assistant Cashiers. Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned in 1909 by attorneys, James E. E. Markley and James E. Blythe to design a building for their bank. Records indicate that City Trust & Savings Bank was established in 1917. Dunn was listed as President of City National Bank in 1920. "Trust Companies of the US" indicates the R. P. Palmer was President of City Trust & Savings in 1920, and Dunn, Palmer, Blythe and Parden as Directors. Of interest is the illustration. It shows the newer building to the left, that was built later than the City National Bank Building. It shows the Park Inn to the right. With the Farm Crisis in the early 1920s, banks failed all across the state of Iowa. City National Bank was among those forced into bankruptcy, resulting in the sale of the bank and its conversion into retail and office space. In 1926, the building was purchased by A. A. Adams, and renamed the Weir Building. Printed on a warm beige stock with the watermark "Cranes Japanese Linen". One sheet.

Size: 11 x 8.4

S#: 0142.09.0413

   
Date: Circa 1930

Title: City National Bank after Remodel

 

   
Date: Circa 1940s

Title: Park Inn

 

   
Date: Circa 1950s

Title: City National Bank

 

   
Date: Circa 1950s

Title: Federal Ave (formerly Main)

Description: City Nat. Bank (on left, out of pic)

 

   
Date: 1977

Title: Mason City, Iowa, An Architectural Heritage (Published by Mason City Department of Community Development)

Author: Forward by: Kenneth E. Kew, Mayor

Description: An inventory of historic and architecturally significant buildings in Mason City. Many Prairie style examples. Includes Wright’s City National Bank, adjoining Park Inn (Cover, Pg 23) and the Stockman House (Pg 53).  Cover is a reprint from the Wasmuth Portfolio Tafel IV (Plate 49), "Bank in Mason City, Iowa" (1910). 

Size: 8.5 x 11.

Pages: Pp 82

S#: 2023.03.0306

   
Date: September 1977,

Title: Photographed by Robert Thall

 

   

September 1977 Details

   
Date: September 1977

Title: Photographed by Robert Thall

 

 

 

Detail on the right

   

September 1977 Details

 
   
Date: 1982

Title: City National Bank "Spirit of Mercury" designed by Richard Bock (1909 - S.155).

Description: Frank Lloyd Wright’s design for the bank included four "Spirit of Mercury" statues over the teller cages in the building. When the building was remodeled in 1926, the four statues were removed. One statue went to the library. Another to a Wright-designed Trier Residence (1956 - S.398) in Johnston, Iowa. Label taped to verso: "Richard Bock: Spirit of Mercury for Frank Lloyd Wright’s City National Bank, Mason City, Iowa, 1908." Stamped on verso: "Feb 23 1982."

Size: Original 8 x 10 B&W photograph.

ST#: 1982.45.1014

   
   
   
HISTORY OF THE PARK INN HOTEL AND CITY NATIONAL BANK

 

Managed and designed by GlobeGazette.com 

Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by prominent Mason City attorneys, James.E.E. Markley and James E. Blythe to design a business block that would include a new building for their bank. It is recounted that Markley and Blythe intended to construct “quality” in lieu of “quantity” referring to a new building under construction by their competitor across the street, First National Bank.

Markley made acquaintance with Wright through visits to his daughter during her term at Hillside Home School, run by Wright’s maternal aunts, Jane and Ellen C. Lloyd Jones. During 1907 and 1908 Wright was a frequent visitor at the Markley home in Mason City. Wright was commissioned to design both the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel structures in early 1909 and construction began about April 1, 1909 as planned. Wright made regular visits to Mason City to supervise the construction; these visits caused little public notice. When Wright abruptly left his practice and went to Europe with Mrs. Edwin Cheney in late October 1909, his chief draughtsman, William Drummond, continued supervision of the construction which was substantially completed in August 1910. Total cost of the Park Inn building was $90,000.

The Hotel was opened under the management of John Sundell. A September 10, 1910 Mason City Globe Gazette article praises Mr. Sundell in making Mason City famous for its splendid hostelry in just three short weeks. The Park Inn Hotel was described as a “model whether in the domain of eatery or sleepery, or perhaps to be more correct -- in cuisine and comfort.” A description of the Park Inn Hotel from the Globe article is as follows:

It is a marvelously well planned hostelry, every room of that 61 rooms but one being an outside room with art glass French windows, mahogany furniture, Cadillac tables, brass beds with box mattresses, lavatories with hot and cold water, luxurious bath rooms - everything new and sanitary and comfort wooing, with double the fire escapes provided by law, and with equipment and service nowhere excelled in the newest and most modern taverns of the Big cities.

In fact with the quaint ventillated doors, the French finish in hard pine with the bungalow effect in the Architecture, a guest feels that he is living in one of those delightful Craftsmen homes which is so restful because of its quiet and broad lines, harmonious proportions and well selected tints of walls and ceiling.

A mezzanine room or balcony overlooking the office and café where the orchestra plays on special occasions, utilized for rest and writing room for the ladies parlor on the second floor that with French windows leads to a delicate balcony overlooking the park; and a spacious guest room for the gentlemen in the basement for reading and correspondence, well lighted and well ventilated are features which at once attract attention and elicit generous praise from the public.

But boniface Sundell has taken especial pains with the other factor of a successful hotel -- the dining department. He has provided both café and lunch parlor to accommodate every taste and every pocket book. The café is a sumptuous nook with a number of private compartments for small dinner parties leading from the main room all artistically furnished with the parti colored art glass to give it the mellow tints by day and unique electric effects for brilliancy by night. A competent corps of waiters are on hand to tender the most deferential and prompt attention and chefs manufacture the cuisine not only tempting but satisfactory to the most critical bon vivant. There seems to be an erroneous idea that the café is only for the guests of the hotel, but it is for the service of the general public as much as the lunch parlor on the west of the office which has commanded a record patronage since the first day of the opening.

The lunch parlor is delightful. The tables, chairs, counters, sideboards and serving tables are all in Flemmish on the Mission style, and one does not need to evoke his imagination to feel that he is in one of the famous Dutch or Flemmish rooms of a metropolitan tavern. The service is a la carte with a noon businessmen’s lunch for 35 cents for those who desire it and the service and cuisine are as tempting as in the more elaborate café. The lunch parlor is open all night but the café is closed at eight o’clock but banquets, and theatre parties are served later in latter by giving previous notice. Sunday music will be provided for the café patrons at noon and in the evening, the well known Gates’ orchestra having been secured. Their music will be a distinct addition to the gastronomic pleasures of the menu following. The Sunday dinner is table d’hote and served for the remarkably reasonable price of 50 cents.

With its completion, the Park Inn symbolized the arrival of culture and tasteful opulence to “this exploding Prairie town.” Cultured citizens could take satisfaction in this building designed along lines equal to those in the most sophisticated areas of the world. The design of the City National Bank and Park Inn buildings through their publication in the Wasmuth Portfolio (a collection of Wright drawings) had a major impact on European architects after its publication in 1910. Created during Wright’s early years, the Park Inn is an excellent example of Prairie School design featuring open floor plans, low overhanging eaves and horizontal planes. This style was primarily used for private residence, but infrequently used for commercial buildings. Wright later used the unique style and elements of the Park Inn in conceptually designing six additional hotels, including the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. The Park Inn Hotel sits across the street south from Mason City’s Central Park. This park is one of only a few dedicated green spaces set within an urban environment in Iowa. It is obvious Wright utilized this natural resource when designing the Park Inn in the placement of windows to maximize the view of the park. The second floor originally held the legal offices of Blythe and Markley to the east and about 14 guest rooms to the west; 24 guest rooms made up the third floor.

The Park Inn ceased operations as a hotel in 1972. In 1973, under new ownership, the upper floors were renovated into apartments although not drastically altered. At some point over the next 15 years, maintenance was neglected and by December 1988 the apartments were in such bad condition that the City white tagged them and relocated the tenants. The upper floors have since remained unoccupied. The upper floors were not drastically altered even during the 1973 renovations.

The main floor of the building has suffered the most serious alterations over the years to accommodate the needs of various business occupants. Non-period improvements have been removed exposing several original architectural features.

Significance
The Park Inn Hotel was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most prominent Twentieth Century American architects. Its Prairie School design, which made Wright famous, is a significant presence in Mason City, Iowa. In the entire Midwest, Mason City possesses a notable inventory of structures designed by Wright and other renowned architects (Walter Burley Griffin, William Drummond and Barry Byrne) in the American architectural movement called the Prairie School. Mason City is the home of the Rock Glen/Rock Crest National Historic District, the largest grouping of Prairie School homes unified by a common natural setting in the United States. The City National Bank, adjoining the Park Inn Hotel, is noted to be the best of the two remaining Wright-designed banks. As the only remaining Wright-designed hotel, the Park Inn is internationally significant both architecturally and historically.

The Park Inn Hotel and City National Bank buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Because of its deteriorated condition the Park Inn Hotel was listed on the ‘Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties’ by the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance in 1999. The Park Inn Hotel gained national and international attention after being designated as a ‘Save America’s Treasures’ official project by the White House Millennium Committee in 2000.

(Note, due to the fact that the internet is constantly changing, and items that are posted change, I have copied the text, but give all the credits available.)

 
   
   
PARK INN HOTEL & CITY NATIONAL BANK BUILDING: A BRIEF HISTORY
 

http://www.wrightonthepark.org/history

 

In 1907, when James E. Blythe and J. E. E. Markley, the two partners  of a prominent Mason City law firm were looking for an architect to compete in quality with the eight-story bank building that would be built across the corner by a competing bank, they didn't hesitate to give the commission to Frank Lloyd Wright. He was the young architect who was building a reputation in the Chicago area, and Markley's experience of Wright was first hand. His two daughters were students at the Hillside Home School in Spring Green, Wisconsin where the older daughter had matriculated in 1902, the year its new school    building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright had been completed.

For them Wright would build a complex, multi-purpose building that would give multiple income streams. Their office would be on the second floor of the building's narrower central waist and the hotel's east wing, surrounded on the south by a two-story banking room with rental office space above and, on the north, by a 42-room hotel, with basement shops beneath the Bank and Hotel. Wright managed to pack all these functions into an aesthetically well-integrated building that architecturally would be the bridge between Wright's Prairie School period and his Midway Gardens and the Imperial Hotel to follow.

Wright's drawings of the bank and hotel are dated from as early as December 17, 1908. Construction was begun on the first of April, 1909, with supervision by Wright until his departure for Europe in late October of that year. At that time William Drummond from Wright's Oak park Studio took over the supervision of its construction and designed a nearby Prairie style home during his visits.

The law office of developer-owners Blythe and Markley was open for business on August 29, 1010, with the gala opening of the entire structure September 10 of that year. Wright returned to the Midwest from his year in Europe in October, 1910.

By contemporary Iowa standards the Park Inn Hotel was very up-to-date with beautiful public spaces including its dining room with a sky-lit stained glass ceiling and a mezzanine balcony between it and the front lobby. The balcony looked down into both the lobby and dining area. A second floor ladies parlor opened through a loggia of stained-glass French doors onto a balcony that cantilevered over the sidewalk, with a wonderful view of Central park across the street.  The basement men's lounge below the lobby was well lit by eight-foot plate glass windows below sidewalk level, protected from the sidewalk by concrete curbs and a brass rail.

The hotel had forty-two rooms that were small by our present standards.  Most of the rooms had a shared bath between pairs of rooms. There were no private baths. Nevertheless, in 1910, the Park Inn Hotel was the symbol of upscale elegance in our small industrial city that was growing by leaps and bounds in population and across its entire economy. Industrially, it was a  microcosm of our nation's industrial expansion in the early 20th century.

Unfortunately for the Park Inn Hotel, Mason City's industrial expansion led in 1922 to the completion of an eight-story 250-room hotel with a large restaurant, ballroom and other upscale facilities. Its large rooms had private baths - facilities equal to the best the state could offer. The Park Inn Hotel was no longer the number one hotel in town and began a gradual decline ending with its closure in 1972.

In 1922, after the farm crisis of 1920, the City National Bank closed in its 1910 location and was merged with another local bank.  By 1925, four of the five Mason City banks present in 1920 had failed. The City National Bank building was sold separately in 1926 and underwent an unsympathetic remodeling into a new commercial use in that year.

 

HOW WRIGHT AND THE PRAIRIE SCHOOL CAME TO MASON CITY

Mason City was the first city in the State of Iowa to have a building by Frank Lloyd Wright, but it came about on a visit by Wright to design his Park Inn Hotel - City National Bank building completed two years later. It was another forty-one years before the next Iowa client commissioned Wright to build a home. How this first house came about involves an interesting story.

The wife of J. E. E. Markley, one of the two partners of a prominent Mason City law firm was an ardent Unitarian and looked forward to the one or two occasions each year when an inspiring Unitarian preacher from Chicago would come to Mason City to preach. The man's name was Jenkin Lloyd Jones, and two of his sisters ran a progressive school in Spring Green, Wisconsin, following the educational principles of John Dewey.

It was natural that the Markley's would like to have their two daughters educated by sisters of this wonderful man who Frank Lloyd Wright knew as his "Uncle Jenk". They could put their daughters on the Milwaukee Railroad train as it passed through Mason City bound for Chicago and have them taken off in Spring Green. The first of the Markely daughters began high school there in 1902, the year the building Wright built for his two spinster aunt's "Hillside Home School" first opened. It was a spectacular limestone building in the "Prairie Style" and made a deep impression on Marion, their first daughter to matriculate there, and on her parents.

In 1907, when the two law partners were looking for an architect to compete in quality with the eight-story bank building that would be built across the corner by a competing bank, they didn't hesitate to give the commission to Frank Lloyd Wright, the young architect who was building a reputation in the Chicago area.  For them he would build a complex, multi-purpose building that would give them multiple income streams. Their office would be on the second floor of its central waist surrounded on the east by a two-story banking room with rental office space above and a 42-room hotel on the west with basement shops beneath the two major building segments. He managed to pack all these functions into an aesthetically well-integrated building that architecturally would be the bridge between the Prairie School and Midway Gardens and the Tokyo Imperial Hotel to follow.

It was on one of his trips to Mason City while planning his bank and hotel, that Dr. G. C. Stockman and his artist wife Eleanor contracted with Wright to build a home for them, the third elaboration on the floor plan of his design for a "fire-proof" house that appeared in a 1907 Ladies Home Journal. The room arrangement of that middle-class house was with four bedrooms above and a living room and dining room flowing together around a central fireplace, each having equal access to a private veranda to make one large living space. Completed in 1908 during his planning of the Park Inn Hotel, this was Wright's first building in Iowa.
 
 
 
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
 
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