Vanished in Cairo

The Famous Building on the 700 block of Commercial Avenue in Cairo, Illinois, had a spectacular presence almost entirely due to the galvanized sheet-metal front made by the Mesker Brothers Iron Works of St. Louis, Missouri. It’s combination of motifs and arched window openings made it one of few truly distinctive Mesker fronts across the … Continue reading

Chicago’s first condo tower

Just last year, I dubbed the Tower Building in Little Rock, Arkansas as “the tallest and most modern Mesker front ever constructed.” Neither claim is no longer true. Thanks to a rather obscure online search, I recently came across a reference to a building at 339 West Barry Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, whose curtain wall … 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

There’s no point in hiding

In documenting historic buildings, Mesker and non alike, we always look for manufacturer identifications and original building owner names. To discover them is always exciting but since they are essentially signs, the only uncertainty lies in whether they survive and not whether they were intended to be seen. There are, however, other labels and inscriptions … Continue reading

On this lot

There are countless historic markers across America commemorating important people, events or buildings from our past. These typically cast metal signs seek to inform about and contextualize their subjects in a mere sentence or two. Many are attached to a historic building, providing a tangible connection with the past. Others simply mark the spot but … Continue reading

Putting on a front

The story of the Stewardson Opera Hall facade disassembly and its subsequent restoration and reinstallation on another building is not a new one, but it remains relevant as it continues to provide insight into patented “house fronts” by Mesker Brothers Iron Works of St. Louis, Missouri. Unlike the original installers, we were not fortunate enough to have … Continue reading

1,900 y contando

During last week’s trip to attend the Illinois Main Street Statewide Conference in Galesburg, Illinois, I decided to take scenic routes instead of the interstate. I wanted to drive through several towns I haven’t yet been to. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a handful of Mesker facades in Prairie City, Avon, and Fairview. I … Continue reading

(Not So) Heavy Metal

Product Report:Restoring Historic Metal Facades. The above is link to a new article by Gordon Bock for the Traditional Building Magazine. It profiles two Illinois projects, one being the facade transplant I was fortunate to be involved with a few years ago. The meticulous restoration of Louis Sullivan’s Carson Pirie Scott Building is also covered. … Continue reading