Side by side

On a recent trip to Galena, Illinois, I had the pleasure to once again observe the J.G. Schmohl Building with its superb galvanized sheet-metal front (two actually) by Mesker Brothers Iron Works, as well as the adjacent building with cast iron columns by George L. Mesker & Co. Seeing the work of the brothers side-by-side … Continue reading

Discoveries in the Old North State

The 100-Mesker club has a new member— North Carolina. Historically, North Carolinians purchased a not insignificant amount of Mesker products, ranking 14th nationwide with a combined estimate of approximately 1,100 facades. Fronts supplied by Mesker Brothers Iron Works netted a total of $96,977.93 in receipts between 1885 and 1908 for approximately 608 facades. Mesker’s best … Continue reading

100+ Meskers found in New Mexico

When we document 100 Mesker facades in a state, we celebrate it. It’s an arbitrary milestone that has little to do with the historic number of installations but it’s been a tradition on these here pages for some time. Thanks largely to Roger Waguespack’s research efforts, New Mexico is the latest state to join the … Continue reading

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

Awning, canopy, marquise

For two centuries, American commercial storefronts often required various shading devices for natural climate control, protection of show window displays and shoppers, and enhancement of building appearance. By far the most popular of these were fabric awnings, but metal was also an available option although not widely acknowledged in contemporary scholarly documentation. Both Mesker companies … Continue reading

Land of Opportunity

Due to a recent trickle of discovered Mesker buildings, there are now 100 of them in Arkansas. Sadly, these latest additions are largely demolished and, as in the case of Harrison’s square, were identified only thanks to historic photographs. Historically, Arkansans were some of the largest purchasers of Mesker products, ranking 7th nationwide with 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

America’s Dairyland

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 … Continue reading

New Deal imagery

Between 1935-1944, the United States Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) undertook the largest photography project ever sponsored by the federal government. In order to build support for and justify government programs of the New Deal, the Historical Section within the Information Division of the Resettlement Administration set out to document America, often at … 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