With four buildings from Bowling Green recently added to the database, Kentucky finally breaks the mark for 100 identified Mesker facades. And it’s about time too – Kentuckians purchased quite a bit of Mesker products, particularly those manufactured in Evansville by George L. Mesker & Co. In a 1905 testimonials catalog, the company claimed the following:
“Our business in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky has been so extensive that you will find one of our fronts in almost every town and village. Space will not permit us to reproduce many cuts, or a complete list of customers. In fact, our reputation for honest values and modern designs of store fronts is so well established in these states that many customers place orders with us unsolicited. […] In Kentucky we have furnished 853 fronts. A record we are justly proud of.”
This number continued to grow each year until it peaked at 2,646 fronts in 1915, the last year of available advertised sales data. This placed Kentucky behind only Illinois (2,917) and Indiana (4,130). An additional 503 fronts purchased from Mesker Brothers Iron Works in St. Louis (a projected number based on available data), yields a combined figure of 3,149 Mesker facades, ranking fifth in the nation. In comparison to the original number, 103 identified examples is far from satisfying…
Nonetheless, this is a great start. For what it’s worth, here’s the breakdown of the 103 facades (full inventory available here):
- 13 by Mesker Brothers Iron Works (MB)
- 90 by George L. Mesker & Co. (GLM)
- 10 complete “house fronts” (5 each by MB & GLM)
- 9 demolished (all by GLM)
- 35 towns (6 with MB, 25 with GLM, 4 with both) – Henderson alone has 26 surviving examples!
Below are a handful of the best examples from the Bluegrass State identified to date.