Did you know the first Grammy ever awarded was presented to none other than Mason City's own Meredith Willson, composer of The Music Man? Step back in time and experience Hollywood History come to life alongside other historic attractions in this vibrant community.
Celebrate the life and accomplishments of River City's Music Man at the Music Man Square. The 1912 "River City" indoor streetscape transports visitors to the set design of the 1962 Warner Bros. motion picture. In the center of the square sits his boyhood museum, which includes the well-known "76 Trombones" hanging from the ceiling alongside the wonderful mural backdrop of Madison Park. Next door, guests can tour the beautifully restored 1895 Queen Anne house where Willson spent his childhood.
Perhaps one of the community's most revered treasures sits inside the doors of the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum. Guests of all ages are thrilled by its collection of more than 500 marionettes and puppets created by America's premier puppet master (and Mason City native), Bil Baird. This exhibit includes world-famous marionette The Lonely Goatherd, which was featured in the Academy Award-winning film The Sound of Music. With a free admission, guests can also admire the permanent collection's impressive original paintings, prints, drawing, photographs, sculptures, ceramics and other works by some of the country's best-known artists from various periods and styles.
Step even further back in time to experience life on the Iowa frontier at the Kinney Pioneer Museum. Home to a vast and assorted collection of Original River City stories, artifacts and memorabilia, guests can also explore a pioneer village complete with a one-room schoolhouse, log cabin, old jail and blacksmith shop. Learn about the community's important role in the brick, tile and meatpacking industries, as well as automobile racing. For a more interactive experience, check the museum's calendar for special event days and live demonstrations of pioneer crafts and trades.
Celebrate the past and explore more fascinating history at the Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery. Located on 70 acres of beautiful grounds, this park-like cemetery provides a scenic and serene final resting place for thousands of loved ones and many local historic figures, including musical icon Meredith Willson. Featuring an impressive collection of elaborate grave markers, monuments and four very distinct, free-standing walk-in mausoleums, it is also listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.