Plan a visit to 'River City'

If you've ever played in a band or are fascinated with Frank Lloyd Wright-style Prairie School architecture, Mason City, Iowa, should be a destination on your list of places to visit.

At the turn of the century, Mason City business leaders brought Wright to the community to design a bank and a hotel there in the Prairie School style, which was new at the time.

The only hotel designed by Wright that still exists is the Park Inn Hotel in downtown Mason City. An $18.5 million-dollar renovation is taking place there, expected to be completed next year. During its renovation, drawings can be seen at the site so you can watch the progress.

Frank Lloyd Wright Stockman House & Interpretive Center

While in the community, Dr. George and Eleanor Stockman commissioned Wright to design their family home. It since has been restored back to its 1908 presentation and turned into a museum.


This first and only Prairie School house designed by Wright in Iowa will be open the third weekend each month from May through August. Hours available to tour are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children 11 years old and younger. For additional hours of operation or to set up a group tour, call (641) 421-3666, or go to

North Iowa Band Festival

If you have ever played in a high school band or have children marching in today’s drum and bugle corps or bands, you may know about Mason City native Meredith Willson’s "River City.".

The production of the Broadway hit and later the movie, "The Music Man," which Willson began working on in 1951, brought people from Hollywood and New York to Mason City — the fictional "River City" of Willson's movie. The movie premiered at the Palace Theater in Mason City in 1962.

The premier was held in conjunction with the Mason City Band Festival that year.

Robert Preston and Shirley Jones were there. They were the headliners in "The Music Man." Willson even grabbed a baton and marched in the festival's parade.

If you're interested in attending the band festival this year, Saturday, May 29, is the big day. The 10 a.m. parade will wind through the streets of Mason City. Bands from all over the Midwest will be on parade. On Thursday, May 27, at Southbridge Mall, a middle school band will perform at 6:15 p.m., followed by a concert performed by the Mason City Municipal Band. A carnival, craft show and many concessions will open Friday, May 28 and continue through Memorial Day on May 31 at East Park.


Music Man Square and Meredith Willson's Boyhood Home

The Music Man Square features a 1912 streetscape replica with an ice cream parlor, soda fountain and gift shop. They are set designs from "The Music Man" film. The museum there features Meredith Willson’s memorabilia.

The restored, 1895 modified childhood home where Willson grew up — near the center of town at 314 S. Pennsylvania Ave. — can also be toured.

The cost to visit Music Man Square and the Willson Boyhood Home is $6 for adults; $3 for students. The square and museum are open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; other times by appointment; closed on holidays.

For additional tour information, call (641) 424-2852, or go to

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