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Get Outta Town

Here's a no-brainer for architecture junkies or any proud Chicagoan: Spend a weekend at Frank Lloyd Wright's Historic Park Inn in Mason City, Iowa. Wright's only surviving hotel, the building was a ruined shell for many years, with great potential evident to town residents but not easily attainable. Cue the non-profit preservationist effort that, with the town's blessing, conjured $20M through fundraising and re-opened the hotel late last year. The Tribune says the hotel cleaves more toward the comfortable than luxurious. And Mason City is a surprise. Once you push past the ubiquitous strip malls and enter the village, unusual homes reveal themselves, anchored by the hotel at the center. The amplifying effect of Wright's sojourn to a small town in Northern Iowa brought other architects in tow, who embarked on a number of interesting single-home commissions. Thus, Mason City became the random Prairie architecture capital it is today. [Trib]