MASON CITY, Iowa - It's a building that has seen many uses in its over 100-year history.
When it opened to the public in 1918, what is now Mohawk Square was the home to Mason City High School, with noted composer and conductor Meredith Willson being in the first graduating class there in 1919. Joining them was the Mason City Junior College, which later became North Iowa Area Community College. After the college moved out in 1955 and the high school moving to their current location about a decade later, school activities were still held there until it was purchased in 1978 and renovated into office space.
But last May, the building's roof partially collapsed after heavy rainfall, forcing tenants like CG Public Health, the Department of Corrections, DHS and the Mason City Housing Authority had to find a new place to operate. Since then, the building has sat empty.
Now, the future of the building is up in the air: should it be preserved or torn down? While there have been discussions regarding redeveloping the property, there are currently no concrete plans to do so. In addition, a demolition permit application was submitted to the city back in June; however, the city's Historic Preservation Commission put the permit on hold, as they considered the building to be a historic structure.
Terry Harrison sits on the commission, and says that the building meets certain criteria that could convince a developer to rehabilitate the building.
"Is it determined to be historical or not? And we had, because it does match the criteria that you need to do that. It is architecturally significant, it has association with events and people that are significant."
He's hopeful that new life can breathed into this architectural wonder.
"Ot's been part of this community for years, it has a lot of history connected to it."
The building was built in the Collegiate Gothic style by noted architect J.H. Felt.
KIMT reached out to the owner of the building, but has yet to hear back.