Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Preserving Frank Lloyd Wright’s work in Mason City October 3, 2014

THIS WEEKEND, IT’S THE SITE of the Iowa Independent Film Festival.

The 1910 Grille sits to the right with the hotel entry in the middle and the former bank to the left.

The 1910 Grille sits to the right with the hotel entry in the middle and the former bank to the left.

But typically, the Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City draws the interest of those who appreciate Prairie School architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the 1910 complex anchored in the heart of this northeastern Iowa city.

The original City National Bank today houses the hotel ballroom.

The original City National Bank, right, today houses the hotel ballroom/banquet room.

Originally built as a hotel, bank and law offices, the restored corner structure today houses a 27-room hotel, five-star restaurant (1910 Grille’) and banquet/ballroom/conference facilities. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Windows and architecture inside the ballroom/banquet room.

Windows and architecture inside the ballroom/banquet room.

Recently I took a self-guided tour of the Wright-designed structure. Docent-led tours are available for a fee.

The Park Inn Hotel front desk.

The Park Inn Hotel front desk.

A skylight.

A skylight.

Dark. Everything is dark.

Dark wood dominates.

As I expected, this Prairie School building is heavy on the wood. Dark. Defined by lines and simplicity.

The billiard room.

The billiard room.

My husband kicks back in an historic building that draws lots of interest.

My husband kicks back in a first floor lounge.

Light floods this area which opens to an upper level patio.

Light floods this area which opens to an upper level patio.

This place, I determined, could be the setting for the classic detective board game Clue. Imagine Professor Plum reading in the library, Miss Scarlet dancing in the ballroom, Col. Mustard shooting pool in the billiard room, Mr. Green hanging out in the lounge. No weapons in sight, though.

So wanders my imaginative mind.

Exterior detail on the former City National Bank.

Exterior detail on the former City National Bank.

Imagination will be showcased within these walls at the weekend Iowa Independent Film Festival which continues from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday and then resumes Sunday, running from 1 – 7 p.m. Showings include documentary, feature, short feature and student films.

A sculpture of Frank Lloyd Wright stands in Central Park, photographed here from an upper story of the hotel.

A sculpture of Frank Lloyd Wright stands in Central Park, photographed here from an upper story of the hotel.

“Wright on the Park: Saving the City National Bank,” a documentary, airs on Sunday. The non-profit Wright on the Park was established to “own, restore and maintain the Frank Lloyd Wright designed properties across from Central Park.” The restoration cost $18.5 million.

The entire building was restored several years ago for $18.5 million.

The entire building was restored several years ago for $18.5 million.

To the vision-led historians, much is owed for preserving this Prairie School treasure in Iowa.

Strong rooflines define Prairie School architecture like this at the hotel.

Strong rooflines define Prairie School architecture like this at the hotel.

FYI: Mason City is also home to other Frank Lloyd Wright designed and Prairie School architecture. I’ll post about that next.

If you are interested in attending the film fest, click here for more info.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Going green in Luverne at ReBorn

That's ReBorn, in the right corner of the city-owned theatre building at 102 E. Main Street.

That’s ReBorn, photographed in July 2013, in the right corner of the city-owned theatre building at 102 E. Main Street. ReBorn has since relocated to 113 E. Main Street.

TO THINK I ALMOST did not pop into ReBorn Home Furnishings in downtown Luverne because my husband mumbled something about “furniture store.”

But I should have known, given the name “ReBorn,” that this would be an extraordinary place.

Oh, my gosh, readers, to think that I could have missed this homegrown business which restores, recycles, reuses, refinishes, reincarnates, rebuilds and revives home furnishings.

On a July 2013 visit to Luverne in the southwestern corner of Minnesota, after gaping at the fantastic old Palace Theatre entry right next to ReBorn and after photographing other buildings along E. Main Street, I opted to check out the business that didn’t interest my spouse. Note that ReBorn, since my visit, has moved to a new location at 113 E. Main Street.

table

Sorry, readers, the table and chairs are sold as is the hand-painted blue grey Armoire.

Honestly, Randy’s male opinion aside, I loved this place. Loved it. It’s artsy and hip and purposeful and just one incredible source for one-of-a-kind recycled home furnishings.

The red dresser/buffet is priced at $295.

The red dresser/buffet was priced at $295.

I am all about reusing what we have. ReBorn transforms old furniture and furnishings in to incredible functional pieces that pop with color and personality. You won’t find anything cookie cutter here. The business even does custom work.

That magical Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

ReBorn sells furniture transforming Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

The secret to ReBorn’s look, so says Becky Feikema who was tending shop on the Saturday I stopped, is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, a decorative paint that goes over most any surface without prep (such as sanding or priming) and leaves a velvety matte finish. ReBorn also protects the painted project with subtle sheen Annie Sloan Soft Wax.

I was a bit surprised that Becky, who has a degree in agriculture and not in interior design, shared so much, including two hand-outs on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. But I suppose if you’re selling that paint, as ReBorn does, you push it.

This yellow table can be yours for $160. The chairs are $65/each.

This yellow table could be yours for $160. The chairs were $65/each.

I saw so many pieces of furniture and other merchandise in ReBorn that I loved. There’s that word again. Loved. I suspect, for that reason, Randy tried to steer me away from this incredible store. He knows me well. I resisted, I really did, and walked away (because I didn’t need anything) without a single purchase. Not that I wasn’t tempted…

The butterfly on the signage symbolizes the rebirth aspect of transforming old home furnishings in to something new and unique.

The butterfly symbolizes the rebirth aspect of transforming old home furnishings in to something new and unique.

FYI: Click here to reach the ReBorn Home Furnishings website to see before and after transformations, pieces available for purchase and more. This is one talented crew running this business.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Lots of merchandise to choose from in this corner display.

Lots of merchandise to choose from in this corner display. The hutch on the left was priced at $475.  The black chest of drawers and vintage fainting couch were sold.

The yellow shelving unit can be yours for $88.

The yellow shelving unit could be yours for $88.

This bench, repurposed from a bed, sells for $215.

This bench, repurposed from a bed, sells for $215.

The vanity/desk is marked at $135.

The vanity/desk, marked at $135.

FYI: ReBorn is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays. A Chalk Paint Class is set for this Saturday, October 4, and again on October 9. Click here for details.

Note that all of these photos were taken in July 2013 and therefore may not reflect current stock.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling