Full Metal Jacket

The below article appeared in the May-June 2015 issue of ‘The Alliance Review,’ a bi-monthly periodical with news relevant to local historic-preservation commissions and their staff, technical assistance, and case studies published by the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC). The NAPC is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting local historic preservation commissions … Continue reading

Cornice gallery

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 … Continue reading

4,000th Mesker!

2,000th Mesker came in December, 2011 and #3,000 in June, 2013. Two years later we have documented the 4,000th entry into the worldwide Mesker facade database. The Hertz Bros. Hardware Store, located at 46 Main Ave in New Leipzig, North Dakota, features a complete building front by George L. Mesker & Co. including cast iron … Continue reading

Found in the archives

The post below appeared in the “Found in the Archives” series of the Vanderburgh County Clerk’s Records and Archives blog on May 20, 2015. After an early Mesker artifact was unearthed and featured in the Endangered Heritage display for National Preservation Month, it was spotted by historian and friend Dennis Au. Subsequently, I was asked … Continue reading

The forgotten brother

Bernard, Frank, and George are the best known of the six Mesker brothers. However, one more brother also made important contributions to the ornamental iron work trade in Evansville and the surrounding region. As Bernard and Frank were establishing a niche for their business in St. Louis, George continued to work for their father in … Continue reading

How about some wood with that?

Beyond metal, the Mesker companies offered nearly everything else needed to erect an entire commercial building façade, dubbed a “house front” and evoking 19th century nomenclature that referred to business entities as commercial houses. While their stamped and cast metal offerings intended to provide instant architectural pretense to the entire building, the storefront with its … Continue reading

NY State of Mind

Comparatively speaking, Mesker facades are not common in the Northeast, where there were many competitors in the architectural cast iron and galvanized sheet-metal trades. Nonetheless, 101 locations have recently been confirmed in upstate New York. Not surprisingly, none exist and likely were never installed in New York City—the closest Mesker facade to NYC in the … Continue reading

The last word in modern construction

“Evansville’s new $175,000 Greyhound Terminal is not only the last word in modern construction but it is one of the most beautiful and imposing structures in this area. Contributing greatly to both of these outstanding points was the George L. Mesker and Company of Evansville. Fireproof construction and strength are clearly denoted by the terminal. … Continue reading

Columnar paradox

It is the Mesker spotter’s curse—he cannot traverse a historic downtown or Main Street without examining the buildings for traces of their work. He does this whether he has time or not, whether alone or with company, on business or for pleasure (oh, how his family suffers). The rewards come often, but then again so … Continue reading

The little catalog that could

Good things come in small packages. The cliche applies to many things but definitely to a diminutive, four-page supplemental insert to the 1903 catalog of George L. Mesker & Co. Both the catalog (46 pages) and the insert were recently auctioned off on Ebay. Fortunately, they were rescued from obscurity by friend and historian Dennis … Continue reading