Trick or treat?
Halloween seems like a perfect holiday for celebrating Mesker facades. In most instances they are integral to the construction where their removal would leave a building faceless. In others, however, they are installed over existing buildings and can be analogous to costumes (at least on Halloween), allowing to disguise building identities behind masks of steel. In order to narrow our focus we should distinguish between costumes that are intentionally designed and manufactured for specific buildings and those that are “borrowed” and affixed over buildings never meant to have them. So in true Halloween spirit, in my opinion there’s nothing scarier than salvaged Mesker facades or components reinstalled in inappropriate contexts. At best, the results can be silly. At worst, they can be downright scary. Below are a few such examples for your Halloween enjoyment.
For the record, I fully support and advocate salvaging historic building components (1) as a matter of last resort if they cannot remain on the building of their origin, and (2) for reuse in historic buildings or within other appropriate contexts. I also don’t enjoy poking fun at the expense of historic buildings, especially my beloved Meskers. But the examples below are just too wacky not to share!
Comfort, Texas. George L. Mesker & Co’s galvanized sheet-metal cornice, salvaged from an old drug store and reinstalled on a residential garage. Why not? Image courtesy of Ruth Kiel.
Conrad, Iowa. Mesker Brothers Iron Works column ornamentation bolted to a wide brick pier on an 1980s grocery store. The incompatible size and context relegate the pieces to wall art without any explanation. At least the vertical arrangement is correct. Image courtesy of Michael Wagler.
Bentonville, Arkansas. This modern building reuses “dolphin panels” by Mesker Brothers Iron Works for decorative purposes. The panels were salvaged from a former building that stood on the same site. The interior also features various pieces framed and hung on the walls as art. Image courtesy of Jim Winnerman.
The “dolphin panels” were trimmed in order to fit into available space. The resulting appearance is of a confused architectural expression – modern buildings should not feature such poorly integrated historicizing elements (if any at all). The untrimmed panels could have been better utilized on another Mesker as replacement pieces. Image courtesy of Jim Winnerman.
Norris City, Illinois. The building features Mesker pieces original to its construction, as well as some added at a later date. The cornice and columns are by George L. Mesker & Co and the lintel cornice of sorts by Mesker Brothers Iron Works.
Mesker Brothers’ sheet-metal panels displaying a blind balustrade and swags are installed above the storefront and over what appear to be internally-illuminated sign boxes. The George L. Mesker & Co cast iron columns below, in turn, were shortened, leaving only the upper portions “levitating” above the storefront. Yikes!