There is another state with at least 100 found Meskers. The 100th facade identified in Wisconsin is a two-story building on Main Street in Alma. Despite storefront alterations, the building retains a galvanized sheet-metal cornice, window bay and hoods manufactured by George L. Mesker & Co. The facade may have been originally purchased/installed by J.A. Fretsch & Son, listed in the company’s 1905 testimonials catalog.
Historically, Wisconsin ranked as the 19th leading buyer of Mesker products with a combined estimate of approximately 986 facades. Majority of these (528) were by George L. Mesker & Co., which ranked 10th highest in the nation. The remaining 458 were by Mesker Brothers Iron Works bought at a total of $40,891.66 between 1885 and 1908. The projected number of Mesker Bros. facades rank #21 on the company’s charts but the expenditures were #31, suggesting a higher number of less expensive installations such as cornices instead of complete “house fronts;” the facades identified thus far appear to support this assumption.
Wisconsin Meskers are a somewhat cohesive group. Majority (96) are two-story in height and with sheet-metal cornices in lieu of full iron edifices, possibly indicating a regional preference for masonry construction (or that most of the iron fronts were demolished or remain to be found). Of the 100, only a handful no longer survive, which is perhaps the most important statistic of all. However, with 90% still unaccounted for, its difficult to predict any definitive patterns.
Here’s the breakdown of the 100 facades in Wisconsin (download the Excel inventory for a complete listing):
64 by Mesker Brothers Iron Works (MB)
35 by George L. Mesker & Co. (GLM)
1 by both
16 complete “house fronts” (9 MB, 6 GLM, 1 both)
6 demolished (4 MB & 2 GLM)
40 towns (11 with MB, 19 with GLM, 10 with both) – Elkhorn has the most with 13; Burlington and Sun Prairie each have 8.
And below are some favorite examples from the Badger State, chosen from available photographs and appearing alphabetically by town: