Wright on the Park, Inc. formed in 2005 in answer to the city’s plea for a local group to come forward and assume the rescue of The Historic Park Inn Hotel. Only days after the city issued its call, Robert “Chip” Kinsey III, a local attorney, facilitated a meeting at the request of Mayor Jean Marinos and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Robin Anderson. Those in attendance concluded that a hotel management company was needed to operate the facility but that ownership should be held by a private, non-profit group. Following a series of meetings, the citizens’ group went before the city council to announce their interest in taking over the project.
By March, WOTP had filed articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State’s office. Charter board members included Jean Marinos, Peggy Bang, Robert Broshar, Hal Hofman, Martha Huntington, Herb Kennedy, Robert Kinsey III, Ann MacGregor, Robert Marolf, Dr. Robert McCoy, John Michel, D. Kendall Peterson, Gary Schmit and Lee Weber. They elected Peggy Bang, an art instructor at North Iowa Area Community College, president, and Ann MacGregor, former director of Hospice of North Iowa, secretary. Ann was then appointed as Executive Director.
WOTP immediately began looking into funding opportunities and developing a business plan for the hotel project. It applied for non-profit, tax-exempt status (501) (c) (3) in September and received approval in November of 2006. The City of Mason City officially transferred The Historic Park Inn Hotel to WOTP in March 2006.
Work by volunteers and through grants already obtained by the Mason City Foundation commenced while the board also concentrated on raising new funds and planning the project. Then, in September of 2007, WOTP was able to purchase the City National Bank and change its focus to include the entire building designed by Wright.
Over the next several years, membership on the board changed, with Jean Marinos serving as the second president. The board also hired Claudia Collier as program assistant. An expanded mission statement committed the group to own, preserve, maintain and educate the public about The Historic Park Inn Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
In the fall of 2009, the major construction phase of the project began and the board of directors watched each step of the restoration/preservation. A soft opening took place in August of 2011 with the Grand Opening and celebration in September.
The first offices of the non-profit organization existed only in Ann MacGregor’s kitchen. Soon WOTP moved into the bank section of the City National Bank and Hotel where it remained until construction meant evacuating the building. The next offices were in the Brick and Tile Building on State Street. In 2015, a new headquarters including office, meeting, sales, and exhibit space opened at 17 S. Federal Avenue on the downtown plaza.
Serving during this time period have been two executive directors, Pat Schultz and Caitlin Callahan, as well as presidents Robert (Chip) Kinsey, Peggy Bang, and Pat Schultz. The organization has numerous volunteers that serve on a variety of committees and as trained docents who give tours of The Historic Park Inn Hotel.
WOTP has hosted workshops for teachers, Wright After Work educational presentations, a variety of speakers, children’s activities, and exhibits. It will continue with programming that advances its mission. Its operational budget is funded through memberships, tour income, product sales income, grants and income from activities.