Located in North Central Iowa is the historic Mason City, birthplace of renowned musician Meredith Willson. Wilson was born in Mason City in 1902 and went on to pen one of the most successful musicals of his time, “The Music Man.”
The essence of Meredith Willson’s wildly popular musical is rooted in the time he spent growing up in Mason City.
As such, the city has embraced its prodigal son and devoted a large section of the city to Meredith Willson’s life and work.
It is a marvelous place for fans of “The Music Man” to go and immerse themselves in all things Willson.
What follows is a brief description of the city’s “Music Man” related attractions and some of what visitors to the “River City” can expect.
The Music Man Square
“The Music Man Square” contains the “Conservatory of 05”, “Reunion Hall”, “Meredith Willson Monument”, “Meredith Willson Boyhood Home”, life-size statue of Meredith Willson, “Mrs Paroo’s Gift Shop”, the “Meredith Willson Museum”, the “Decker House Bed and Breakfast, and a 1912 “River City” streetscape.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the streetscape is that it was created based on the Warner Brothers’ film sets used in their 1962 film version of “The Music Man.”
“The Music Man Square” backdrop is so faithful to the original that visitors can’t help but feel that they are part of the movie itself.
Museum and Home Highlights
“The Meredith Willson Museum” and “The Meredith Willson Boyhood Home” collections have great depth and breadth. They contain such distinct items as the actual piano Meredith Willson used to craft some of his most beloved hits; “76 Trombones” and “Lida Rose.”
Reunion Hall and Conservatory
The “Reunion Hall” is a special event venue that can be rented out by large groups whereas the “Conservatory of 05” is a comprehensive music venue that features studios, music classes and concerts.
Decker House Bed and Breakfast
Visitors who would like to spend the night in “The Music Man Square” area may do so by renting a beautifully appointed guest room at the circa 1894 Victorian style “Decker House.”
The bed and breakfast features rooms that range in price from $85 to $150 as well as “Sour Grapes”, the on-site bistro.
Those interested in making reservations for an overnight stay in the “Decker House Bed and Breakfast” should call 1-888-363-4700.
Mrs Paroo’s Gift Shop
“Mrs Paroo’s Gift Shop” is a superlative place to go for “Music Man” memorabilia, reproductions and souvenirs. In addition to the normal gift shop fare, “Mrs Paroo’s Gift Shop” features highly collectable “Music Man” lapel pins, jewelry and patches that range in price from $5 to $25 dollars.
Hours of Operation and Admission
“The Music Man Square” and the attractions that encompass it are open year round, Tuesday through Sunday from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm.
As of 2010 admission to “The Music Man Square” and its attractions is $6 per adult and $3 per child between the ages of 7 through 18. Children ages 6 and under are admitted into the square and its attractions for free.
The admission price includes access to both the square and all of the corresponding attractions. Would-be visitors should note that the last tour given at “The Meredith Willson Boyhood Home” begins promptly at 3:30 pm.
The Music Man Square
308 South Pennsylvania Avenue
Mason City, IA 50401