Perhaps because today is Veterans Day, or because of last week’s All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, or maybe the recent passing of boxing legend Joe Frazier and rapper Heavy D have something to do with it, but I feel saddened. Since death is the theme, I’ve also thought about losses in historic preservation. Despite that every year we gain a group of “new” historic buildings (i.e. those reaching 50 years of age)—whether via official designation or recognition through historic resource surveys—those that are lost are not coming back. Not ever. What remains, if we’re lucky enough, is some sort of recordation in the form of photographs or drawings. Perhaps a bit of salvaged historic fabric. Maybe a historic marker or two.
The continued discovery of Mesker facades will also yield an ever-increasing number of buildings lost. It is the only statistic that is guaranteed to rise. Even as I cite the current figure of 165 extinct Meskers, I know it is incorrect. Many buildings were clearly pending doom at the point of discovery and only official confirmation stands in the way of moving them to the “lost” category. Plus there are hundreds of buildings that were gone long ago and we’ll never know anything about.
Below are some of the best Mesker facades that no longer exist. Where appropriate I’ve indicated the building’s significance and cause of demolition.
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