Page 2 of the 1903 George L. Mesker & Co. catalog insert with façade renderings and customer testimonials from Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Barberton, Ohio; and Cambria, Wyoming. Image courtesy of Dennis Au.
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Page 2 of the 1903 George L. Mesker & Co. catalog insert with façade renderings and customer testimonials from Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Barberton, Ohio; and Cambria, Wyoming. Image courtesy of Dennis Au.

The little catalog that could

Good things come in small packages. The cliche applies to many things but definitely to a diminutive, four-page supplemental insert to the 1903 catalog of George L. Mesker & Co. Both the catalog (46 pages) and the insert were recently auctioned off on Ebay. Fortunately, they were rescued from obscurity by friend and historian Dennis … Continue reading

W.J. Hogan Building (1888), 324 Main St., Natchez, MS.

More Mississippi Found

It’s been nearly two years since I profiled Natchez and Yazoo City for their large Mesker enclaves, in Mississippi Found. With three Mesker facades recently located in Woodville, Mississippi is the 10th state with at least 100 identified Meskers. These ten states—IL, IN, MO, TX, KY, IA, KS, CO, WY, and MS—account for 2,737 of … Continue reading

Chouteau County Courthouse, Fort Benton, Montana. The building's key exterior feature is it's square clock tower, sheathed in galvanized iron mimicking the appearance of cut granite. Image courtesy of Ken Robison.

From Industries of St. Louis to Courthouses of Montana

Documentation of early Mesker work is often a challenging task due to lack of catalogs (needed for design confirmation) and a significantly smaller pool of comparables, especially of the surviving kind. The earliest known extant examples of the work of J.B. Mesker & Son and George L. Mesker & Co. are from 1876 (New Harmony, … Continue reading

Rock Springs, WY.

Forever West

Thanks to Roger Waguespack’s relentless research at several Wyoming photo collections and museums, the Cowboy State now has over 100 identified Mesker facades. Since this batch of several dozen buildings were entered into the database at random over a course of few weeks, no particular example can be honored with#100, and the total as of … Continue reading

Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County

La Fontana

Mass-produced Mesker products never attracted attention of leading architects, unless for scorn. Meskers, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind working with architects, either professionally or personally. In fact, George Mesker once commissioned one of America’s best-known architects, Addison Mizner (1872–1933), to design an extravagant mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, by most appearances a folly … Continue reading

Tomlinson Cadillac-Oldsmobile

Mesker Automotive Buildings

In the 1950s, Geo. L. Mesker Steel Corp. (formerly Geo. L. Mesker & Co.) designed and engineered several structures for the automotive industry. In addition to the Multi-Park (“a sectional, all-steel parking shelter of modernistic design”), the company offered an entire sub-class of its standard sectional prefabricated buildings intended for car dealerships and appropriately dubbed … Continue reading

510-512 S. Main St, New Harmony, IN.

Indiana 500

When in May 2007, the Old Exchange National Bank in Okawville, Illinois, was honored as the 500th Mesker facade identified in the state, we made it a big deal. This was during my first tour of duty at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and in the midst of “one of the most successful historical detective … Continue reading

1898 catalog

Story of enframement

A minor variation among the many designs for galvanized upper story facades offered by the Mesker Brothers Iron Works was a composition incorporating an enframement or a decorative border around a group of windows. The rectangular frame was of a standardized design featuring a wide band of a repetitive plant-like motif with an outer egg-and-dart … Continue reading

Pages 5 through 20 were perforated.

This 1892 catalogue

In contrast to the numerous patents held by Mesker Brothers (Bernard and Frank), there were no patents found to have been issued to George L. Mesker & Co. But the iron works did apply for at least one. The company’s 1892 catalog featured an ingenious yet simple method of choosing facade designs. The pages showing … Continue reading

Grainfield Opera House (1887), Grainfield, Kansas. This is one of the best and earliest Mesker Brothers facades in the country, with a close counterpart in age and design found in Wrights Hall in Ouray, Colorado. Most of the motifs found here, as well as some compositional features such as the semicircular window openings, only appeared in Mesker catalogs for a couple of years.

100 plus recorded in Kansas

Kansas is the latest state to break the 100 Meskers mark, thanks to a large batch of facades found by Roger Waguespack. The group of the latest re-discovered buildings includes several towns and no particular example can be bestowed the (meaningless) honor of #100, with the total as of the date of this post sitting … Continue reading

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