The Mesker Brothers Iron
Works of St. Louis, Mo., and the George L. Mesker Company of
Evansville, Ind., produced prefabricated architectural elements and
building facades from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The two
firms, owned by brothers but operating independently, best
demonstrate the mass-produced building parts trade of the turn of
the century. The Meskers specialized in ornamental sheet-metal
facades and cast-iron storefront components that were ordered
through catalogs and easily shipped by rail to any interested
building owner. The extensive product lines also featured entire
storefront assemblies, fences, skylights and freight elevators.
Made of galvanized steel and cast iron, durable Mesker facades often
survive despite the occasional neglect and lack of maintenance.
While not all buildings may feature elaborate sheet-metal facades,
individual building components, such as cornices and window hoods,
are quite common throughout the state, especially in smaller
communities. "Meskers," as they are often called, are found across
America. However, because the companies were based in the Midwest,
they are particularly plentiful in Illinois and are part of the
state's rich architectural history.
The article was written by Darius Bryjka, project director for
the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
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An eclectic Arts and Crafts-style bungalow in what was once the
working-class neighborhood of Winnetka is the subject of the
magazine's "Timepiece" section. Lola Maverick Lloyd had the modest
home built after a bitter 1916 divorce from her wealthy husband.
Family friend and sculptor Charles Haag, a Swedish immigrant, helped
Lloyd decorate the home with carved wood details, murals, art glass
and charming details at every turn.
In February 2006 the modest home was listed in the National
Register of Historic Places for its association with Lloyd, a
tireless social activist who devoted much of her life to pursuing
global peace. "Wayside," the much larger Winnetka home she shared
with her husband prior to their divorce, was listed in the National
Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Historic Illinois is a bimonthly publication that features
historically significant sites in Illinois. Subscriptions are $10
per year, which includes six issues of Historic Illinois and a
full-color calendar. For more information, call (217) 524-6045,
visit www.illinois-history.gov or write to Historic Illinois, Illinois
Historic Preservation Agency, 1 Old State Capitol Plaza,
Springfield, IL 62701-1507.
Historic Preservation Agency news release]