Road spotting: 4 Meskers in 2 states

Pedimented galvanized steel cornice (design no. 682 in 1898) of the Sherwood Building at 526 Main Street in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, was manufactured by the Mesker Brothers Iron Works, St. Louis, Missouri.

No road trip can be called a success without discovering new Mesker facades. Plus it’s so much more rewarding documenting them in person versus through other people’s photos. Last week our family went to Lincoln, Nebraska, and drove through Missouri to get there and through Iowa on the way back. We didn’t really stop in any historic downtowns on the way to Lincoln so we were determined to get our fix on the way back (or more correctly, I was allowed to do so as a Father’s Day present). The only Nebraska Mesker spotting came courtesy of Plattsmouth, a great river community with a very nice downtown historic district, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Sherwood Building at 526 Main Street has a very nice galvanized iron cornice by the Mesker Brothers Iron Works and their patented window hoods (design no. 718 in the 1898 catalog). The cornice, design no. 682 in the 1898 catalog, cost $1.05 per foot. The pediment was $9.00 and letters $0.50 each. Worth mentioning are some Nebraska foundries whose work I’ve noticed along the way: Cass County Iron Works from Plattsmouth, and Seaton & Lea Ironworks with locations in Lincoln, NE, and Atchison, KS. The latter’s work I’ve seen elsewhere in Nebraska and the company appears to have been pretty significant.

Two more Mesker Brothers cornices were spotted in Red Oak, Iowa, and one more in Corning. The Red Oak facades also have Mesker Brothers window hoods. Including the Plattsmouth example, none of the facades have any marked Mesker components at the storefront level hence attribution has to rely solely on ornament identification.

The biggest surprise, however, was the discovery of two Mesker look-alike cornices, which I believe were manufactured by the Willis Manufacturing Company from Galesburg, Illinois. Both are in Iowa: one in Corning, the other in Lucas. At a quick glance, these appear to be Mesker made; in fact, a few years ago I made that mistake. More on Willis and their Mesker imitations in a future post.

The Sherwood Building at 526 Main Street in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Cornice and window hoods by Mesker Brothers Iron Works.
Mesker Brothers Iron Works window hood design no. 718 (1898) on the Sherwood Building in Plattsmouth, Nebraska.
Adjacent buildings with Mesker Brothers Iron Works cornices and window hoods at 407-409 E. Reed Street in Red Oak, Iowa.

3 thoughts on “Road spotting: 4 Meskers in 2 states

  1. Castinirony

    Agreed! Mesker hunting is a little like bird watching. The good news is that unlike birds, Meskers don’t fly away. That means a lot less waiting and eye rolling from the family as we take “just one more” picture, really I mean it 😉
    P.S. I think I’ve got some pictures of faux Meskers from the Waitsburg (WA) Foundry somewhere… I’ll try to dig them out by the time you do a Willis post.

    1. I’d like to see the pictures of the faux Meskers you speak of. Willis’s Mesker imitation was the “we’re going to reprint Mesker renderings in our catalogs and pretend that we can replicate the ornaments and hope that no one will notice the difference” kind of imitation.

  2. Don Troop

    Thanks for posting this! My great-grandfather, Robert Sherwood, operated a Buster Brown shoe store out of that building. I still have his old stuffed dog, Tige, and large-format photo of the store’s front window display.

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