Mason City is known for its musical heritage, consistently producing successful performers and educators.The city's "favorite son," Meredith Willson, grew up in Mason City and played in the Mason City Symphonic Band as a high school student. Willson's crowning achievement was the famous musical The Music Man. Many of the characters in it were taken from people Willson knew from his childhood in Mason City.
The Kraft Foods plant in Mason City produces the United States' entire supply of refrigerated ready-to-eat Jell-O pudding snacks. Wow.
Both the Park Inn Hotel and Stockman House suffered from neglect and unsympathetic alterations before they were saved by community organizations. In 1989, the Stockman House was moved four blocks to prevent its demolition; it was subsequently restored and opened to the public by the River City Society for Historic Preservation. Likewise, Wright on the Park, Inc. began restoration on the Park Inn Hotel in 2005 and the former City National Bank building in 2007. The organization will reopen both buildings as a boutique hotel in August 2011. The Park Inn Hotel is last remaining of the few hotels that Wright completed during his career and is considered a prototype for Wright's Imperial Hotel.
The Rock Glen and Rock Crest National Historic district is a small enclave of single-family homes situated along the banks of Willow Creek five blocks east of downtown. It is the largest collection of prairie style homes in a natural setting in the world. It features both Prairie School and Usonian design. Five of these houses were designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, two by Francis Barry Byrne, and others by William Drummond, Einar Broaten, and Curtis Besinger. More.
In 1911 Griffin married Marion Lucy Mahony, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in architecture. She was employed first in Frank Lloyd Wright's office, and then by Hermann V. von Holst, who had taken over Wright's work in America when Wright left for Europe in 1909.
After their marriage, Mahony went to work in Griffin's practice. A Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony-designed development with several homes, Rock Crest – Rock Glen in Mason City, Iowa, is seen as their most dramatic American design development of the decade and remains the largest collection of Prairie Style homes surrounding a natural setting.