Cornice gallery

12-26 S. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI. Five adjacent buildings with galvanized sheet-metal cornices by Mesker Brothers Iron Works. Thirteen in all survive in Elkhorn’s historic commercial district.

On Father’s Day, I took a quick jaunt from Beloit to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, to photograph the numerous—thirteen to be exact—surviving galvanized sheet-metal cornices made by Mesker Brothers Iron Works. Just cornices. No full fronts, window hoods, or storefront columns, which also means there are no maker’s marks to inform the onlookers about their provenance. I knew they were there having identified them through Google’s Streetview imagery a few weeks prior, but the opportunity to see them firsthand, thanks to a family visit nearby, was difficult to pass up.

The Elkhorn Meskers are a solid bunch. At a quick glance all of the designs are similar and many share an identical end bracket design. However, no two cornices are exactly alike, showcasing the multiple variations that were featured in the company’s catalogs. Among them is also an amusing customization of a standardized sheet-metal cornice in order to conform to a triangular parapet at 9 E. Walworth St. Elkhorn appears to have a very nice stock of historic buildings and these thirteen cornices are an important part of the downtown’s character. I’m glad they survive in such a high concentration.

(To learn about another Wisconsin town with lots of surviving Mesker facades, click here).

26 S. Wisconsin St. (1892), Elkhorn, WI.

24-26 S. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI. The stacked or overlapping end brackets may be identical but the cornices themselves are different.

22-24 S. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI.

20 S. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI.

16-18 S. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI. This building also has a lintel cornice (above the storefront) by Mesker Brothers.

12 S. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI.

9-13 S. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI.

9 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI.

15 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn, WI.

41 N. Wisconsin St. (1895), Elkhorn, WI.

13 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn, WI.

9 E. Walworth St., Elkhorn, WI.

9 E. Walworth St., Elkhorn, WI. This example is unusual in its execution—a standard rectangular cornice was customized to follow the profile of the triangular brick parapet, without modification of the cornice brackets in the pediment. In a traditional wooden cornice, the brackets would have continued in a parallel pattern despite the angle of the cornice.

10 E. Walworth St., Elkhorn, WI.

Cornices by Mesker Brothers Iron Works in Elkhorn, WI.

Cornices by Mesker Brothers Iron Works in Elkhorn, WI. From top to bottom: 9 E. Walworth; 10 E. Walworth; 13 W. Walworth; 41 N. Wisconsin; 15 N. Wisconsin; 9 N. Wisconsin; 9-11 S. Wisconsin; 13 S. Wisconsin; 12 S. Wisconsin; 16-18 S. Wisconsin; 20 S. Wisconsin; 22-24 S. Wisconsin; and 26 S. Wisconsin.

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  1. […] towns (11 with MB, 19 with GLM, 10 with both) – Elkhorn has the most with 13; Burlington and Sun Prairie each have […]



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