Lace ’em up!

In the 1940s, a progressive skating rink operator would be wise to “consider a skating rink with 100% floor space, with stability and live-long qualities, requiring a minimum of repairs – and obtainable at a minimum price.” Or so were the hopes of Geo. L. Mesker Steel Corporation which offered just such a product. Although initially this appears to be a very specific product line, in reality it was simply another outlet for their structural steel products and galvanized pressed steel sheets though the latter were not ornamental as we know them from Main Street buildings 50 years prior.

The Mesker skating rinks and fair association buildings were inexpensive, easily erected, fireproof, weather tight, sturdy, portable, attractive (ehm…), and promptly delivered. Mesker even offered to provide Alumina plastic roof cement for minor leaks ($3 per quart). How considerate! The only items not included were foundations, rink flooring, and outside wall enclosures. The last omission seems odd since Mesker offered sectional steel buildings during this period and an all-inclusive package would not have seemed impossible. This decision was likely made in order to keep down the initial costs.

It seems that the Mesker steel skating rinks were fairly successful as evidenced by the partial list of installations: Mary C. Lowe (Birmingham, AL); Roller Drome Skating Rink (Mobile, AL); Tice Roller Rink (Montgomery, AL); Rex Rohrer (Belle Plaine, IA); J.C. Thorp (Oskaloosa, IA); Fox Skating Palace (Belvidere, IL); Fairclaugh Roller Rink (Sandwich, IL); Chester Lidster (Shelbyville, IL); George Welton (Cedar Lake, IN); Raymond Ziegler (Connersville, IN); American Legion Rink (Evansville, IN); Tri-State Roller Rink (Evansville, IN); Burdette Park (Evansville, IN); Hodges Bros. Roller Rink (St. Louis, MO); Frankie’s Amusements (Dayton, OH); T.F. Means (Connellsville, PA); Meyer Bros. Rink (Oak Ridge, TN); Lone Star Roller Rink (Killeen, TX); Big Top Roller Rink (Palacios, TX); Berryville Sports Center (Berryville, VA); Wayne R. Barlow Roller Rink (Charleston, WV); and Lory Lumber Co. (Charleston, WV).

Next time you lace up your skates in a vintage all-steel portable skating rink, you may find yourself skating in a Mesker!

Front of brochure for portable skating rinks by Geo. L. Mesker Steel Corp. Circa 1940s.
Back of brochure for portable skating rinks by Geo. L. Mesker Steel Corp. Circa 1940s.

9 thoughts on “Lace ’em up!

  1. Howard

    Mesker supplied outside wall enclosures would have helped…a lot…great information though! DB do you know of any examples that we can Google street view?

  2. I love these enclosed ice rinks! You can call them simply utilitarian but it’s a marvel thinking about the craft that went into designing these detailed but easy-to-assemble structural systems! Modern materials and modern design helping out the average joe. Thanks for this post, Darius!

  3. So cool . . . my grandparents rented out bottom land for a portable skating rink in Rumble, WV. No idea if it was a Mesker steel rink, but it is an avenue to research. What I’m really excited about are the clear photos of Barlow’s Skating Rink, formerly located at 710 Virginia St., W., in Charleston, WV. My parents were friends with the owners and skated and water skied with them, but this is the only photo of the exterior of Barlow’s that I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing this.

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