More Mississippi Found

W.J. Hogan Building (1888), 324 Main St., Natchez, MS.

W.J. Hogan Building (1888), 324 Main St., Natchez, MS. Close up of the cornice pediment. Galvanized sheet-metal façade manufactured by Mesker Brothers Iron Works, St. Louis, Missouri.

It’s been nearly two years since I profiled Natchez and Yazoo City for their large Mesker enclaves, in Mississippi Found. With three Mesker facades recently located in Woodville, Mississippi is the 10th state with at least 100 identified Meskers. These ten states—IL, IN, MO, TX, KY, IA, KS, CO, WY, and MS—account for 2,737 of the 3,715 buildings (74%) in the database. Mesker #100 was reported by Roger Waguespack—a one-story building on Commercial Row with a sheet-metal cornice and panels imitating rock-faced stone made by Mesker Brothers Iron Works (adjacent to the post office in this photo). Two additional Meskers were identified while “driving” in Google Streetview—Woodville Town Hall at 510 Main Street has patented adjustable window hoods also by Mesker Brothers, while a one-story building at 643 Main Street has a full galvanized iron front (even the storefront columns are clad in sheet-metal) and millwork by George L. Mesker & Co. (adjacent to the Sam Rosso Building in this photo). While unconfirmed, it is very likely that this is the same building mentioned in the 1905 testimonials catalog with G.A. Wettlin as owner. The Mesker Brothers facade on Commercial Row has an added distinction of being the 1,000th full-iron façade by the St. Louis company alone. 10 states with 100 Meskers and 1,000 Mesker Brothers “house fronts”—powers of ten anyone?

While Roger along with James Whitlow of Hoxie, Arkansas, identified practically all of the existing buildings on the list, additional historic locations were garnered (also by Roger) through the Cooper Postcard Collection of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The digital collection does not identify or distinguish Mesker façades from others, but the photographs are available at a high enough resolution for us to recognize any potential suspects. A few of these images are reproduced below. I can’t thank Roger and James enough for their volunteer efforts in cataloging these buildings and kindly sharing their images.

Historically, Mississippians purchased a lot of Mesker products, ranking the state as the 12th largest overall buyer with a combined estimate of approximately 1,356 facades. 902 of these are attributed to Mesker Brothers Iron Works, purchased at a total of $113,337.88 between 1885 and 1908 (ranking #9 on the company’s sales charts). George L. Mesker & Co. sold an additional 454 fronts in the state by 1915 (rank #15). Among the Southern states only Texas (3,984), Kentucky (3,149), Arkansas (2,035), Oklahoma (1,732), and Tennessee (1,537) could boast more.

The inventory of the 102 facades in Mississippi is as follows (for a detailed Excel inventory click here; you can also view a Google fusion table map here):

  • 48 by Mesker Brothers Iron Works (MB)
  • 54 by George L. Mesker & Co. (GLM)
  • 27 complete “house fronts” (24 MB, 3 GLM)
  • 23 demolished (17 MB, 6 GLM)
  • 34 towns (13 with MB, 14 with GLM, 7 with both)—Natchez has the most with 14, followed by Yazoo City (10) and Canton (8).

And here are a few favorites, appearing in alphabetical order, by town (for images of Mesker facades from Natchez and Yazoo City, please see the original Mississippi Found):

Bank of Amory, Amory, MS. The building still stands at the northwest corner of Main and Second and although it continues to function as a bank, it has been stripped of its galvanized sheet-metal ornamentation (made by George L. Mesker & Co.) and covered with a synthetic exterior insulation system (EIFS). It is one of five Mesker facades identified in Amory. Image courtesy of the Cooper Postcard Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH).

138 W. Cherokee St., Brookhaven, MS. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

138 W. Cherokee St., Brookhaven, MS. Upper façade bearing several classic motifs of Mesker Brothers Iron Works. At least one other Mesker front in Brookhaven, also by Mesker Brothers, still survives. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

214 5th St. S, Columbus, MS. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

214 5th St. S, Columbus, MS. Intact and well-maintained “brick front” with cast iron storefront columns, and sheet-metal cornices and window hoods by George L. Mesker & Co. Columbus has four known Meskers. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

312 E. Railroad Ave., Crystal Springs, MS. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

312 E. Railroad Ave., Crystal Springs, MS. Plate steel storefront columns and galvanized sheet-metal front by Mesker Brothers Iron Works. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

105-107 E. Georgetown St., Crystal Springs, MS. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

W.C. Wilkinson Building, 105-107 E. Georgetown St., Crystal Springs, MS. Despite storefront alterations the façade retains pressed metal panels and cornices by George L. Mesker & Co. Capitals of cast iron storefront columns remain exposed above the brick. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

W.C. Wilkinson Building, Crystal Springs, MS. Rendering from the 1902 and 1903 catalogs of George L. Mesker & Co.

W.C. Wilkinson Building, Crystal Springs, MS. Rendering from the 1902 and 1903 catalogs of George L. Mesker & Co., depicting the building’s former “handsome appearance.”

9918 Main St., Goodman, MS. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

9918 Main St., Goodman, MS. Fully intact, though neglected, façade by Mesker Brothers Iron Works, which includes a wooden storefront. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

109 E. Washington St., Houston, MS. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

109 E. Washington St., Houston, MS. Brick front with wooden storefront, cast iron columns, and galvanized sheet-metal cornice all supplied by George L. Mesker & Co. Rendering of the façade appeared in the company’s 1905 testimonials catalog, with Ardern and Hubbard as contractor/owner. Image courtesy of Roger Waguespack.

First National Bank, McComb, MS. The building, with cornices, pediments and turret by Mesker Brothers Iron Works, stood at the northwest corner of Front and Main. Image courtesy of the Cooper Postcard Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH).

E. Peeler Ave., Shaw, MS. Image courtesy of James Whitlow.

E. Peeler Ave., Shaw, MS. Cast iron columns by George L. Mesker & Co. Many of Mississippi’s Mesker facades in small communities have seen better days. Image courtesy of James Whitlow.

Water Valley Bank, Water Valley, MS. The impressive corner building stood at the NE corner of Main and Wood. It’s storefront columns and upper story cornices were made by Mesker Brothers Iron Works. Image courtesy of the Cooper Postcard Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH).

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