Land of the Rolling Prairie (and 100 Meskers)

Recent finds in Dysart, Eldora and Reinbeck supplied several Mesker Brothers brick fronts and now the Iowa list has 100 Meskers.

100 is but a fraction of the estimated 2,473 Mesker facades that originally graced Iowan buildings, ranking the state as the sixth largest purchaser of Mesker products. 1,882 of  these were by Mesker Brothers Iron Works bought at a total of $193,656.39 between 1885 and 1908 (ranking #6 on the company’s charts). The remaining 591 were by George L. Mesker & Co. (rank #7). These figures are nothing to sneeze at and they indicate that more fronts are awaiting to be rediscovered.

Here’s the breakdown of the 100 Meskers in Iowa (detailed inventory available here):

  • 87 by Mesker Brothers Iron Works (MB)
  • 13 by George L. Mesker & Co. (GLM)
  • 26 complete “house fronts” (all by MB)
  • 2 demolished (all by MB)
  • 46 towns (35 with MB, 9 with GLM, 2 with both) – with 9 Meskers (including seven in a row!) Bloomfield is a hands-down favorite but Osceola also has 9 known examples.

And below are some of the best found in Iowa thus far:

616-620 First St., Bonaparte, IA. Several great Mesker Brothers facades in a row. There are a total of six identified examples in town. Image courtesy of flickr member Iowa4Square.

Louis Thoma Building (1893), 106 W. Burlington Ave., Fairfield, IA. Great two-story Mesker Brothers front with a colorful paint scheme. Image courtesy of flickr member Tourismguy.

Latimer's 105 E. Franklin St., Bloomfield, IA. One of seven Mesker Brothers facades on the south side of the square. Image courtesy of Nick Kalogeresis.

Latimer’s, 105 E. Franklin St., Bloomfield, IA. One of seven Mesker Brothers facades in a row, on the south side of the square. Image courtesy of Nick Kalogeresis.

114-116 S. Main St., New Sharon, IA. Two-story Mesker Brothers “house front” with an adjacent one-story edifice. Image courtesy of flickr member Tourismguy.

Len Jus Building, 213-217 N. Federal, Mason City, IA. Classic Mesker Brothers upper facade. Originally installed by one owner, now multiple ownership is evident by various maintenance levels. Image courtesy of Anthony Rubano.

Len Jus Building, 213-217 N. Federal, Mason City, IA. Classic Mesker Brothers upper facade. Originally installed by one owner, now multiple ownership is evident by various maintenance levels. Image courtesy of Anthony Rubano.

517 Main St., Mediapolis, IA. Facade by Mesker Brothers Iron Works. Despite storefront and window openings being blocked, the cast iron and galvanized components are nearly all there. Image courtesy of flickr member Tourismguy.

110 W. Main St., Washington, IA. Large three-story brick building with a galvanized sheet-metal cornice and window hoods by Mesker Brothers Iron Works. Additionally, the bay window/balcony on the right has Mesker-made wrought iron railings and brackets. Image courtesy of flickr member Tourismguy.

John Goedert Meat Market, 322 Main St., McGregor, IA. Installed over an 1850s building in 1889, this two-story complete front by Mesker Brothers Iron Works is virtually the same today as it appears in this historic photo from 1902. Image courtesy of Barbara Corson.

John Goedert Meat Market, 322 Main St., McGregor, IA. Installed over an 1850s building in 1889, this two-story complete front by Mesker Brothers Iron Works is virtually the same today as it appears in this historic photo from 1902. Image courtesy of Barbara Corson.

Conrad, IA. Salvaged cast iron column ornamentation on a new brick building. Who needs context! (I do - this is not one of the 100 identified Meskers). Image courtesy of Michael Wagler.

Conrad, IA. Salvaged cast iron column ornamentation on a new brick building. Looks nice… Who needs context? (Actually, I do; hence this is not one of the 100 identified Meskers). Image courtesy of Michael Wagler.

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Comments
5 Responses to “Land of the Rolling Prairie (and 100 Meskers)”
  1. Roger Waguespack says:

    Thanks for the alert about Meskers in Iowa. I did a quick look at a couple of railroad towns that I don’t think have been added to the spreadsheet. For some reason, Google Streetview is very limited, but I’ve found some photos. I think the addresses are ok, but I hope someone can double-check them. If my quick look is any indication, Iowa really does have great potential for undiscovered Meskers.

    Oakland has a couple of historical Mesker Brothers fronts listed on the Google Earth database including the Spalti Bros. Building. Here is a link to a photo of it. I believe the address of the medical center is 110 Main St.
    Oakland

    This view from the other end of the street shows another Mesker front. The address of the salon is 120 N. Main St.
    Spalti Bros. building

    Another 1-story Mesker front is farther down and across the street on N. Main.
    Oakland.

    Centerville had, and appears to still have some Mesker Brothers fronts. There’s a GL Mesker listing in Google Earth. Below are a couple of photos. There could be more
    Meskers , but there appears to be no Google Streetview of the square or surrounding streets.

    100 Block of W. Jackson St. (south side of square)
    http://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=783ad949-f523-4fe4-a775-0e265838ace0&gid=3

    The following are of N 12th St. (west side of square, Your Square Deal Maytag is 312)
    http://www.waymarking.com/gallery/image.aspx?f=1&guid=f6ac6268-e7a1-4694-9db1-ddf331900d24&gid=3

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/88553567@N02/8089725168/in/photolist-djRXs9-djRWXe-tTVZK-eawvHH-54hM4o-62fRw6-4yTYoJ-9pD1dW-6ok1Fi-5qW1SY-cGQfHj-FnSJu-6LhGA7-6LdLKZ-bL4vax-6LhGA1-9ZGaAe-9ZGaR8-9ZGazp-9ZGDKk-9ZGaRV-9ZK2G9-9ZGaYt-9ZK2Sy-cGQkKd-aRWcKk-FnSJw-2ais5j-2aisaL-2ais93-2aisas-9GHoK-9ZKpmj-8U9SS8-9ZGaZz-9ZK33L-d9Y8zW-5edzfQ-348eWo-348ev1-JgAw3-9ZK31s-hYiUr-64DfQX-3KZ4Rj-2PUiR7-3eSUcV-aV1yrB-e7nPUb-7WZnaT-6XZZma/

    This is a long shot of the west side of the square, which they tout as the “world’s largest town square”. It’s looking up N. 12th St. Not sure if it shows additional Meskers, though.
    DSC_4228

    PS: Do these get the number of Meskers over 3,000?

    • Roger Waguespack says:

      Oops, I think the photo links for Oakland are reversed. Let’s see if this works better

      Oakland has a couple of historical Mesker Brothers fronts listed on the Google Earth database including the Spalti Bros. Building. Here is a link to a photo of it. I believe the address of the medical center is 110 Main St.
      Spalti Bros. building

      This view from the other end of the street shows another Mesker front. The address of the salon is 120 N. Main St.

      Oakland

    • Thank you Roger. I’ll check these out.
      Actually, we’re unofficially at 3,000 already, just finishing up the listings, post and press release… but pssst! I will add these new ones to the queue.

  2. Susan says:

    Oakland City Council has approved the demolition of the Spalti Brothers building. many of us are frustrated and sad …

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