Like father, like sons

Every legacy has its origins and the four Mesker brothers and their respective companies owe their genesis to a certain John Bernard Mesker (1823–1899). John Bernard Mesker was born in Germany on February 22, 1823, and came to America in 1835. Settling in Cincinnati, John trained as a “tinner,” a craftsman who worked with tinplate, … Continue reading

Pattern of influence

In the past we’ve been able to determine, or at the very least speculate about, the origins of some of the Mesker Brothers motifs including the fish panels, sea shells, and clusters of columns, largely because of the evidence for such inspiration left behind by Bernard Mesker. What follows is an origins story about a … Continue reading

Ruffini & Mesker, pt. 2—San Angelo

Read Part 1 of this post, covering the Sonora portion of the Ruffini Collection, here. Oscar Ruffini was based in San Angelo, where he reportedly designed over 30 buildings. Therefore, it is not surprising that eight of ten Mesker Brothers’ blueprints in The Ruffini Collection at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission are for … Continue reading

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

From Industries of St. Louis to Courthouses of Montana

Documentation of early Mesker work is often a challenging task due to lack of catalogs (needed for design confirmation) and a significantly smaller pool of comparables, especially of the surviving kind. The earliest known extant examples of the work of J.B. Mesker & Son and George L. Mesker & Co. are from 1876 (New Harmony, … Continue reading

Story of enframement

A minor variation among the many designs for galvanized upper story facades offered by the Mesker Brothers Iron Works was a composition incorporating an enframement or a decorative border around a group of windows. The rectangular frame was of a standardized design featuring a wide band of a repetitive plant-like motif with an outer egg-and-dart … Continue reading

1,000 “house fronts” and more

Lost in the recent updates was another milestone – the identification of the 1,000th “house front.” The various Mesker categories and subtypes are described in detail here, but in summary “house fronts” are what Mesker Brothers (from St. Louis) referred to as buildings with a full sheet-metal facade. Buildings of this type are typically one … Continue reading