Rock Springs, WY.
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    *3,651 buildings in 1,528 communities
    (updated September 27, 2014)

    Latest update includes buildings from Carlisle, Monticello, and Scottsville (KY); Bethany (MO); and Fox Lake (WI).

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

First State Bank, Winchester, Illinois. Constructed circa 1898 by Frost & Hubbard, using a cast iron and wood storefront and galvanized sheet-metal lintel and main cornices by George L. Mesker & Co., Evansville, Indiana. Image courtesy of Chuck Frost.

There’s no point in hiding

In documenting historic buildings, Mesker and non alike, we always look for manufacturer identifications and original building owner names. To discover them is always exciting but since they are essentially signs, the only uncertainty lies in whether they survive and not whether they were intended to be seen. There are, however, other labels and inscriptions … Continue reading

Radulovich Block (1892), Tucson, Arizona. This impressive Mesker Brothers "house front" stood on the northeast corner of Congress and State Sts. in downtown Tucson until it burned during an 1898 fire. Interestingly, the one-story building that replaced it also featured sheet metalwork by Mesker Brothers. It too no longer exists. Image from the University of Arizona.

1,000 “house fronts” and more

Lost in the recent updates was another milestone – the identification of the 1,000th “house front.” The various Mesker categories and subtypes are described in detail here, but in summary “house fronts” are what Mesker Brothers (from St. Louis) referred to as buildings with a full sheet-metal facade. Buildings of this type are typically one … Continue reading

Patent no. 478,974, for a building front. Issued on July 12, 1892, this. Image from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Behind the iron curtain

While its use as decorative facing for buildings was perhaps the most dramatic use of the material, the principal exterior application of ornamental sheet-metal in commercial architecture was for cornices. Prior to sheet metal, wood was the primary material for cornices in small towns, with the exception of when stone was used by wealthier building … Continue reading

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