As downtown Mason City continues towards its re-birth of vibrancy, I find it more and more exciting. I was delighted to find in one of my old histories of downtown several buildings that had balconies that overlooked Federal Ave. Those upper floor apartments must have rented at a premium back in those days. Every time is see photos of balconies facing boulevards, I think of some of the historic districts of northern European cities. Since the balconies are so much higher due to the height of the main floors, it gives a person more of a sense of security.
When looking at those old photos, I can see signs belonging to businesses that were bakeries, dry goods, cafes, clothing stores, meat markets, and ladies ready to wear shops. What is also quite interesting to see in the old photographs are the many different styles of architecture used when they built the original downtown. It came as no surprise when I spoke with a seasoned architect who was visiting Mason City several weeks ago telling me that he had never seen so many different styles of architecture in a city the size of Mason City. I think the reason for this is that many of the people who built here were from different countries and they wanted the styles they were familiar with in Europe to be re-created. Makes sense doesn’t it? We tend to want that which we are the most accustomed.
What I hope we can do is bring businesses that will help to fill in the missing pieces for a vibrant and bustling historic district. I believe an upscale health food store on the order of Whole Foods would be great as well as a real old fashioned made from scratch every day bakery. A charming confectionery would be nice as well. Appealing to the senses seems to always do the trick. Just thinking about the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls makes my mouth water.