Advertisement for J.H. Mesker & Co. on the cover of the 1884 Evansville City Directory. Image courtesy of Dennis Au.
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    (updated April 16, 2015)

    Latest update includes buildings from Houlton and South Paris (ME).

Advertisement for J.H. Mesker & Co. on the cover of the 1884 Evansville City Directory. Image courtesy of Dennis Au.

The forgotten brother

Bernard, Frank, and George are the best known of the six Mesker brothers. However, one more brother also made important contributions to the ornamental iron work trade in Evansville and the surrounding region. As Bernard and Frank were establishing a niche for their business in St. Louis, George continued to work for their father in … Continue reading

Diagram of a Mesker Brothers Iron Works storefront bulkhead with approximate dimensions. Base photograph of the in Panguitch, Utah, courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

How about some wood with that?

Beyond metal, the Mesker companies offered nearly everything else needed to erect an entire commercial building façade, dubbed a “house front” and evoking 19th century nomenclature that referred to business entities as commercial houses. While their stamped and cast metal offerings intended to provide instant architectural pretense to the entire building, the storefront with its … Continue reading

Smith Block (1895), Wappingers Falls, NY.

NY State of Mind

Comparatively speaking, Mesker facades are not common in the Northeast, where there were many competitors in the architectural cast iron and galvanized sheet-metal trades. Nonetheless, 101 locations have recently been confirmed in upstate New York. Not surprisingly, none exist and likely were never installed in New York City—the closest Mesker facade to NYC in the … Continue reading

Greyhound Terminal (1939) in Evansville, Indiana. Photo from 2005, prior to restoration.

The last word in modern construction

“Evansville’s new $175,000 Greyhound Terminal is not only the last word in modern construction but it is one of the most beautiful and imposing structures in this area. Contributing greatly to both of these outstanding points was the George L. Mesker and Company of Evansville. Fireproof construction and strength are clearly denoted by the terminal. … Continue reading

Comparison of the three diagonal nameplates applied at the base of cast iron columns.

Columnar paradox

It is the Mesker spotter’s curse—he cannot traverse a historic downtown or Main Street without examining the buildings for traces of their work. He does this whether he has time or not, whether alone or with company, on business or for pleasure (oh, how his family suffers). The rewards come often, but then again so … Continue reading

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

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