Music Man Square Update

by Kathleen Huebener in Works in Progress


Mason City’s Music Man Square provides the viewer with an informative historical
of an age when an extremely talented man, Meredith Willson, lived.
Upon entering the museum, at first glance, one is transported into 1912
by the streetscape of the Warner Brothers movie “The Music Man.”
The street is lined with small shops; some functioning as windows into the past,
such as this clothing shop.
Others are actual shops such as the ice cream and candy shop shown below,
where tasty treats can be enjoyed.
Beyond the streetscape, we were treated to a 20-minute documentary highlighting the movie “Music Man.” Shirley Jones narrated it, and delightfully shared the fun stories of making the movie. Further into the museum, there are more houses exhibited,
such as the blue house with the white trim where Shirley Jones,
as Marian the librarian, taught piano lessons.

Inside Marian the librarian’s house, a life-like child figure practices the piano.

Besides all these remembrances of the movie itself, there are many more insights
into Meredith Willson’s life, including fantastic music-related exhibits.
The photo below highlighted numerous songs heard by radio,
which all could be heard with a press of a button.
This full-scale exhibit gave a glimpse of what the radio studio looked like
filled with stars singing Meredith Willson’s songs.
We were also fortunate to have a personal tour by Ms. Rita of the restored 1895 Queen Anne house that was Meredith Willson’s birthplace and boyhood home. Ms. Rita related many stories of the family; each room had its special ones. We were allowed to venture into the huge attic, complete with a buffalo skin and old desks where the children played.
It was covered with wallpaper,
that in Meredith Willson’s 8-year-old niece’s eyes, resembled fireworks.
Alas, no photo taking was permitted on this house tour. However, we were given
a greater understanding of what had shaped Meredith Willson into the Music Man.

The Music Man Square was worth the time to go see and enjoy all the great music.
Besides all this, there is more for art lovers to see in Mason City, such as the only remaining hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the first and only Prairie School house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and an interpretive center featuring,
yes, you guessed it, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Yes, Iowa is filled with great treasures.
We only have to open our eyes and go see them.