Saved From Near Extinction, The Historic Park Inn Offers Visitors A Unique Experience
Featured in the 1910 Wasmuth Portfolio, the City National Bank and Hotel originally housed a bank, law office, and hotel. In early 2000, demolition threatened the last standing hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Wright designed the bank as a dignified vault housing a two-story banking room featuring clerestory windows, light fixtures with statues of Mercury, art glass windows and iridescent glass embedded in mortar joints. The top floor held offices, the basement retail space. A 1926 remodeling destroyed Wright’s design, removing the clerestories, adding an intermediate floor, and installing retail display windows.
Today, the bank has its original configuration, the two-story banking room adapted into a ballroom, the upper floor to six hotel rooms, and the basement into conference rooms. The ballroom retains the grandeur of Wright’s design with art glass and clerestories in place and Mercury statues standing guard.
The law offices, reception area, and library in the central waist were altered into apartments. Fortunately, the balcony, mahogany paneling, and transom windows remained. The reception area was restored into a beautiful lounge which serves as an elevator lobby. The library is graced by reproduction lights, shelving, and a bench, all detailed in Wright’s original drawings.
The hotel underwent few exterior changes over the years. However, the interior lobby and skylight room were severely altered and original mezzanine removed. The 43 10’ x 10’ guest rooms had become apartments and the basement abandoned due to moisture infiltration. The second-floor balcony remained, the parlor space behind it converted to an apartment. In the late 1990s, the building was abandoned and deteriorating.
The rehabilitation combined hotel rooms for a total of twenty-one. The lobby and Skylight Room were painstakingly restored, the mezzanine returned. Art glass and period-style furnishings bring back the Prairie School ambiance. One of the miracles of the restoration was the return of the skylight’s original 25 art glass panels.
The spectacular Ladies’ Parlor has French art glass doors opening onto the balcony with urns and copper fascia still in place. The basement is now home to the 1910 Lounge, and again offers a billiards’ room, both historic functions of the space.
The restored Historic Park Inn Hotel presents to the public a façade nearly identical to the original. The interior welcomes guests with its elegant Prairie Style. Since the Grand Opening in 2011, the impact has been remarkable: visitors have come from all 50 of the United States and 40 countries for a unique Wright experience, expressing delight and surprise at what has been accomplished.