South Carolina’s 101 Mesker fronts

When we document at least 100 buildings with Mesker building products in a state, we celebrate it here. It’s a chance to provide some historic statistics and to acknowledge good Mesker examples that might otherwise go unrecognized. The latest to join the 100+ club (now 18 states in total) is South Carolina with 101 Meskers.

Historically, South Carolinians purchased a fairly substantial amount of Mesker products, ranking 18th nationwide with a combined estimate of approximately 988 facades. Products supplied by Mesker Brothers Iron Works netted a total of $62,641.64 in receipts between 1885 and 1908 for approximately 452 facades, ranking 23rd nationwide. Mesker’s best year for South Carolina jobs was 1887, with $5,477.88 in net receipts. The results were on par with the marketing effort: 49,983 catalogs distributed in the state from 1888 to 1909, which ranked 25th in the nation. The single highest yearly distribution was in 1908 with 8,500 catalogs. George L. Mesker & Co. did even better with 536 facades sold in the state by 1915, which ranked 9th in the nation.

Here is the breakdown of the 101 facades identified so far in South Carolina (download the Excel inventory for a complete listing):

  •  37 by Mesker Brothers Iron Works (MB)
  •  63 by George L. Mesker & Co. (GLM)
  •  1 with components by MB and GLM (both)
  •  30 complete “house fronts” (23 MB, 7 GLM)
  •  17 demolished (13 MB, 4 GLM)
  •  38 are one-story in height (10 MB, 28 GLM), 60 are two-story (27 MB, 32 GLM, 1 both), and 3 are three-story (all GLM)
  •  48 towns (11 with MB, 30 with GLM, 7 with both)—most surviving facades can be found in Bennettsville (7). Georgetown once boasted the most with 19 facades; now just 5 remain.

And below are some favorite examples of surviving Meskers from the Palmetto State (selected from available photos), appearing alphabetically by town:

100-104 W. Main Street, Bennettsville, SC. 100 W. Main (left) and 104 W. Main (right) feature facade components by George L. Mesker & Co., while 102 W. Main has parts from Mesker Brothers Iron Works—this type of Mesker “sandwich” is extremely rare. Image courtesy of Anthony Rubano, Illinois State Historic Preservation Office.
104 W. Main Street, Bennettsville, SC. Close up of the intricately detailed galvanized sheet-metal front by George L. Mesker & Co. Image courtesy of Anthony Rubano, Illinois State Historic Preservation Office.
McCall Block, 108-112 E. Main Street, Bennettsville, SC. Superb facade by Mesker Brothers Iron Works, including their patented steel plate storefront columns. Image courtesy of Anthony Rubano, Illinois State Historic Preservation Office.
McCall Block, Bennettsville, SC. Close up of the richly detailed cornice pediment. Image courtesy of Anthony Rubano, Illinois State Historic Preservation Office.
M. Manne Building (1892), 115 Pearl Street, Darlington, SC. Classic upper facade arrangement by Mesker Brothers Iron Works applied over several lot widths. Image courtesy of Flickr member KevinB 87.
136 Columbia Highway, Estill, SC. This galvanized sheet-metal front by Mesker Brothers Iron Works combines the characteristic dolphin/fish panels with an enframement surrounding the upper story windows. Image courtesy of Flickr member KevinB 87.
800 block of Front Street, Georgetown, SC. J.B. Steele Building (1888), 801 Front Street (left) features a front by Mesker Brothers Iron Works, while 803 Front Street (middle) and 805 Front Street (right) have facades by George L. Mesker & Co. Though altered, the facades survive to this day. Image courtesy of the Georgetown County Digital Library.
701 Front Street, Georgetown, SC. Along with the adjacent building at 703 Front Street (far right edge of photo), the facades were supplied by George L. Mesker & Co. Image courtesy of Randy Wilson.
225 Main Street, Seneca, SC. The half-covered building in center of the image has the rare distinction of showcasing products from both Mesker companies. In this case, the cast iron storefront columns were made by George L. Mesker & Co. while the galvanized sheet-metal cornice by Mesker Brothers Iron Works. Image courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

2 thoughts on “South Carolina’s 101 Mesker fronts

  1. Shana Burrows

    Hello, I’m an owner of a Mesker Bros. Metal store front. I believe there is 5 in my town.There is 2 in a town 7 miles away from my town Bethany MO.
    I would love to share photos of my store plus the other 4 in my downtown.

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