Mesker Buildings

“Mesker,” one of the prefabricated sheet metal facades or cast-iron components that graced many a Midwestern Main Street in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The name comes from the Mesker brothers, who manufactured them. The three Mesker brothers owned two competing companies, the Mesker Brothers Iron Works of St. Louis and George L. Mesker & Co. of Evansville, Indiana. …. Ordered by catalog, Mesker-manufactured facades were used to build banks, hotels and shops at a cheap price as burgeoning towns were taking shape along railroad lines. … In addition to ornate full front facades, some so detailed they looked like stone, the Mesker brothers sold tin ceilings, window hoods, iron fences and freight elevators from about 1880 to 1910. The goods were sent by rail and assembled by the buyer in one or two days . For a typical two-story building, an entire sheet metal facade cost between $200 and $300, about a fifth of the price of cast iron or terra cotta products. 1 Louisiana ranks sixth in the nation for the most existing Mesker buildings. 2

1. “Tourist Attractions.” 2018. Louisiana Visitors and Convention Bureau. Accessed July 23. https://www.visitlouisianamo.com/nearby-attractions/. 2. Starks, Carolyn. 2006. “Small-Town Building Blocks Rediscovered.” Chicago Tribune. January 16, 2006. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2006-01-16-0601160163-story.html.

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