Some 40 teachers became students at a workshop focusing on Frank Lloyd Wright in Mason City recently, and they were impressed with what they learned.
The event was a Landmarks of America Workshop for Teachers, held at the Historic Park Inn Hotel, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and conducted by Wright On the Park Inc., owner of the renovated landmark.
What they learned is what we locals learned over the past few years: That we have a national treasure in that restored hotel and City National Bank building. Now, we hope they’ll spread the word to people of all ages about our amazing piece of history.
If comments from participants were any indication, consider it a lesson well-learned.
“It’s just exceeded anything I could have wanted,” said Karen Melander of San Francisco, who wanted to experience small-town middle America. “I’m so impressed with the niceness and the community. People just go out of their way to help you with the smallest things. I think people here take the time to engage you as a human being.”
We stress the “all ages” aspect of this because we want people of all ages to learn about Wright and his legacy of Prairie School architecture. That includes tourists who may select Mason City and North Iowa as a destination because of the hotel, Wright and what we’ve accomplished in or near downtown (including The Music Man Square, MacNider Museum and public library).
It also is important for young students to learn about architectural concepts and early influences.
Such was the thought of Terry LaSalle, a history teacher from New York City, who called seeing Wright’s architecture “very moving” and said she’s anxious to tell her students about her time in Mason City and about Wright.
“I want them to know there’s more to life than their little microcosm,” she said.
So we offer a “job well done” to Pat Schultz, executive director of Wright On the Park, and her organization for putting on this unforgettable experience for these 40 teachers. It will presented again Aug. 4-9, when we expect to hear more rave reviews about Mason City in general and specifically the Historic Park Inn Hotel.
We like how Chicago middle school art teacher Gene Smerz described it: “Staying here is like living inside an artwork.”