Today I went to see several Frank Lloyd Wright and Wright-inspired buildings in northern Iowa on a field trip for Dan Naegele’s FLW seminar course I am taking this semester. Our day trip took us to Mason City and Quasqueton.
We visited the Stockman House (photo above) in Mason City, which was an example of Wright’s $5000 “fire proof homes” concept, though this one was actually built of wood frame, not concrete, so it was not actually fireproof. It was moved from its original location back in the early 1990s to a site along Willow Creek, across the street from Rock Glen, an early 20th century housing development of Wrightian Prairie and Usonian style homes (though not designed by Wright himself). We walked along the creek, which was beautiful with the trees in the fall. Bob McCoy, a local FLW enthusiast showed us around and allowed us inside his own home, the Blythe Residence designed by Walter Burley Griffin, overlooking Willow Creek.
While in Mason City we also stopped by to see restoration work at the Park Inn Hotel, one of Wright’s only hotels, located in downtown across from the town square. Built around 1910, this building incorporated a hotel and a bank, and is thought to be a prototype for Wright’s much larger Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which was demolished in 1962. I must say I was pretty impressed with Mason City, contrary to my previous judgement of the town based solely on the outskirts view from I-35.
In the afternoon we drove to Quasqueton, which I did not realize was so close to Cedar Rapids, located in Buchanan County not far from US 20. Near Quasqueton we visited the Lowell Walter House, also known as Cedar Rock, perhaps one of the more well-known Wright houses in Iowa. This is a Usonian house, designed with the most basic domestic needs in mind, at least in Wright’s view. Estimated to cost $5000, the total cost ended up being $150,000 – in 1950 dollars. Extraordinary cost overruns were evidently quite common for Wright, but his clients seemed to put up with him anyway. The Walter House also includes a boat house next to the Wapsipinicon River.
It was interesting to see a few of the several homes and buildings Frank Lloyd Wright designed in Iowa. The state actually has a considerable collection, and most in good condition as well. View my photos at the link below.