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Preserve Iowa Summit Set for June 2-4 in Mason City

Known for Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic hotel, it’s no wonder Mason City is listed among the world’s best cities for architecture lovers by Condé Nast Traveler.

Iowans involved in historic preservation will get a close-up look at Wright’s Park Inn Hotel and other examples of Prairie School architecture when they gather June 2-4 in Mason City for the 2022 Preserve Iowa Summit, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs’ premier statewide conference for historic preservation.

“We’re delighted to be able to come together and present the summit in person after two years of a virtual format,” Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Heather Gibb said. “We encourage Iowans and others to join us as we hear from leading historic preservationists and literally step into Mason City history with a wide variety of tours.”

The summit is designed for historic property owners, historic preservation commission members, Main Street staff and board members, developers and planners, government officials, community leaders, architects and students for three days of workshops, presentations and an awards ceremony.

The event also features several tours, with expert guides to point out highlights of historic architecture and explain the best ways to preserve them for the future. These “mobile workshops” include:

Rock Crest – Rock Glen Historic District: This walking tour will highlight the exterior architecture of the houses in the district. After seeing houses on the Glen, participants will head to two houses in Rock Crest, with a more in-depth tour of the Melson House, which was built for a local real estate developer, Joshua Melson, and his wife, Minnie, a school teacher.

The Historic Park Inn Hotel: Wright designed this world-famous building to house the City National Bank, law offices and a hotel when it opened in 1909. After myriad changes and a $20 million preservation and restoration, the property reopened in 2011 as a hotel and events center.

The summit’s breakout sessions will spotlight a number of specific preservation projects in Mason City – including a 1912 steam-powered train engine, a 1939 Art Moderne fire station, and a 1939 International style home – as well as preservation projects farther afield, like the Mathias Ham Historic Site in Dubuque, home of Iowa’s oldest log cabin. Other sessions will examine broader topics, including Main Street rehabilitation, cemetery preservation, a digital photo archive known as Fortepan Iowa, and even examples of “unseen infrastructure,” such as historic sewers and steam-heating systems, which have had an enormous impact on public health, transportation, energy usage and home convenience in both rural and urban areas.

The schedule opens with an awards ceremony organized by the State Historic Preservation Office and the nonprofit Preservation Iowa to celebrate successful preservation projects across Iowa. At the end, the summit wraps up with a half-day of practical how-to sessions for Iowans who work or volunteer at local historical societies and history museums across the state.

The 2022 Preserve Iowa Summit is coordinated by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Office, the city of Mason City and the Mason City Historic Preservation Commission. It’s funded in part by the National Park Service, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Preserve Iowa Summit
When: June 2-4, 2022
Where: Mason City, Iowa
Registration: Register online at iowaculture.gov.

  • $200 Early bird registration through May 1
  • $225 Regular registration through June 1
  • $250 Onsite registration
  • $100 Discounted registration for Local History Network members and Certified Local Governments for entire event (promo code needed)
  • Free Saturday admission for Local History Network members and Certified Local Governments. Registration is required.

For more information, visit iowaculture.gov or email historic.preservation@iowa.gov.

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