Mesker designing is practical!
File this under ‘miscellaneous.’ In the 1940s, the engineers of Geo. L. Mesker Steel Corp. developed a design for outdoor drive-in theatre screen supports, a clear by-product of the company’s structural steel fabrication. The “A” frame supports were fabricated from rolled steel structural shapes (not pressed steel sections); were of shop-riveted construction (not welded); and intended to be bolted on site upon shipping. The supports were designed for a wind load of 40 lbs. per square foot, or equivalent to a wind velocity of 100 miles per hour. Mesker included all of the necessary field bolts and heavy anchor bolts for concrete foundations. They also offered additional engineering and design services for footings. The supports were painted with one coat of rust primer prior to shipment. While the screen themselves were not included, Mesker recommended 1/4″ asbestos sheets or marine plywood for this purpose.
The supports were offered in three models, the largest (model 750 – designed for drive-ins with car capacity of 750 or more) being 70 feet tall and able to support a screen 72 feet by 52 feet in size. Shipping weight of this model was 25 tons.
For added economy, the Mesker screen supports had their backs exposed and were intended to be used mainly in situations where they were not visible. However, “in those instances where the back of the screen support is exposed to view, you will be surprised how neat the exposed structural steel appears.” I couldn’t agree more.
A partial list of installations advertised in the pamphlet reproduced below includes drive-ins in Beckley, WV; Chicopee Falls and Springfield, MA; Columbus, OH; Evansville and Indianapolis, IN; Herrin, IL; and Sandston, VA. Who knows how many were constructed and in turn survived.