- Associated Press - Friday, May 16, 2014

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - Dozens of fifth-graders from Wisconsin traveled to Mason City to immerse themselves in Prairie School architecture.

The 55 students from Wakanda Elementary School in Menomonie, Wisconsin, have been studying Prairie School buildings, which were most common in the Midwest in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Frank Lloyd Wright, who was born in Wisconsin, is the best-known architect identified with such work.

There are numerous examples of buildings fitting the Prairie School style in Mason City, including a hotel designed by Wright.

Art specialist Sally Johnson, three teachers and the school’s principal made the three-hour drive to Mason City and led the students on a tour Thursday that included a city neighborhood, an architectural interpretive center and the Historic Park Inn Hotel. The building, built in 1910, is the last remaining hotel designed by Wright.

The students spent about an hour in the hotel, which reopened in 2011 after a two-year restoration.

“It’s fascinating,” 11-year-old student Jenna Paulson said of the hotel. “I don’t know how anyone could even come up with it.”

Christian Bilse, 11, said he liked the “clerestory banded windows,” noting the narrow windows atop a high wall.

“There’s no normal windows. It’s all art glass,” he said.

Before making the trip, the students compiled portfolios that included their architectural research and renderings, floor plan creations and three-dimensional architectural models. The school raised more than $9,000 to pay for the trip.

They also will spend a day in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, where they will visit an art museum and walk through a historic neighborhood.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/