Close
Reference List of Logos for Historic Architectural Ironworks Companies

Reference List of Logos for Historic Architectural Ironworks Companies

A reference listing of logos from the many ironwork foundries that shaped the look of American main street storefronts in the late 1800s


This blog post is intended for use as a reference and will be updated periodically


In the late 1800s and early 1900s, American main streets were built with ornate ironworks façades made by the Mesker Brothers and several others.

As a photographer who shoots a lot of historic architecture and abandoned buildings, I see a lot of these old storefronts in cities and small towns. Sometimes, the ornate façades are painted and well-maintained. Often they are rusty and in poor condition. Too often, they’re demolished. Whenever possible, I try to document the companies by snapping a shot of the name plates on the columns.

The Meskers were among the most popular, but certainly not the only manufacturers of architectural iron works. St. Louis alone was home to at least nine major makers.

About the architectural ironworks foundries shown below

Chickasaw Iron Works

I was unable to find any verifiable information about this company that was based in Memphis, but I will keep looking.

Christopher & Simpson

The Christopher & Simpson Architectural Iron and Foundry Company was founded on Park Avenue in St. Louis by Jacob Christopher in 1873. He incorporated the company in 1882 with partner W.S. Simpson. (The St. Louis Star-Sayings, 1893, sourced from Studio2108.com)

Christopher & Simpson was one of at least nine foundries making architectural storefronts in St. Louis. St. Louis was a center of iron foundries partly due to its proximity to a vast iron deposit at Iron Mountain in Missouri. But because these storefronts were mail ordered, St. Louis also provided a central location and ready access to shipping via the river and rail lines. (National Building Arts Center)

Geo. L. Mesker and Company Architectural Iron Works

George L. Mesker was one of three brothers, all in the iron works industry. The brothers seem to have made an amicable division of markets. Frank and Bernard Mesker operated Mesker Brothers Iron Works in St. Louis, while George began manufacturing iron storefronts and other architectural elements in Evansville, Indiana in the 1880s. Mesker store fronts were especially popular in the Midwest, but were sold to every state of the union.

Mesker products were marketed by elaborately illustrated annual catalogs, many of which are still available whole or in part online. My, how times have changed — the catalog advises potential customers to “Write for Discounts.”

Page 21 of the 1900 catalog says this about the company: “Our Facilities: We have one of the largest establishments in the United States for the manufacture of Store Fronts. We get out (sic) material in large quantities and carry large stocks, thus bringing the cost of production down to a minimum. We are centrally located, and accessible by rail and river to all the great iron, coal and lumber markets of the country.”

How much did a Mesker store front cost? One of the advantages of a Mesker store front was the affordability. For example, a caption under item No. 1729 in the 1900 catalog says, “A handsome arrangement for a cheap double brick store front. It has cast iron sills, lintels and columns, and galvanized iron lintel cornice, main cornice and pediment. Price of cast iron and galvanized iron work for 32 ft. front, $162.00; 35 ft., $170.65; 38 ft., $179.30. Woodwork and glass extra.”

Livermore Foundry and Machine Company

Livermore Foundry and Machine Company of Memphis was opened by A.S. Livermore in 1874.  A native of Kentucky, Livermore moved to Memphis in 1862 to take a position as the superintendent first for the Mississippi and Tennessee Railroad. He held the same position for the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad until resigning to start his namesake foundry.

Scherpe & Koken Architectural Iron Company

Scherpe & Koken operated in St. Louis from 1870 – 1912 under various names, including Scherpe & Koken Architectural Iron Company; Enterprise Architectural and Ornamental Iron Works & Foundry; Koken Iron Works. The company was absorbed into the American Bridge Company in 1912, by industrialist J.P. Morgan. (Glassian)

Photographs of architectural ironworks logo nameplates listed alphabetically by state

Below are reference photographs from some of the buildings I have encountered, but this is not necessarily all the examples in a given city. I will update this list as new images are made.

Alabama

Ft. Payne

Iron work column bearing the name of Scherpe & Koken, made in St. Louis, found in Alabama.
Iron work column bearing the name of Scherpe & Koken, made in St. Louis, found in Alabama.

Illinois

McLeansboro

Markers for historic George L. Mesker and Company Architectural Iron Works.
Markers for historic George L. Mesker and Company Architectural Iron Works.

Mississippi

Belzoni

Arched logo on a column in Belzoni, Mississippi, manufactured by Christopher & Simpson in St. Louis, Missouri

Clarksdale

Logo for Chickasaw Iron Works Memphis, Tennessee. Seen in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Logo for Chickasaw Iron Works Memphis, Tennessee. Seen in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Top of the rusty iron column manufactured by Chickasaw Iron Works Memphis, Tennessee. Seen in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Top of the rusty iron column manufactured by Chickasaw Iron Works Memphis, Tennessee. Seen in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
This video shows the Chickasaw Iron Works name written along the edge of the metal bulkhead of this abandoned building in Clarksdale.

I found this rusty storefront, manufactured in Memphis by Chickasaw Iron Works, at 220 S. Edwards in Clarksdale, Mississippi. This abandoned building is in extremely poor condition and probably won’t stand much longer.

Itta Bena

Chattanooga Roofing and Foundry Co. column found on an abandoned and collapsing building in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
Chattanooga Roofing and Foundry Co. column found on an abandoned and collapsing building in Itta Bena, Mississippi.

Yazoo City

Base of an ironwork column made by Chattanooga Roofing and Foundry Co. spotted in the old downtown of Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Base of an ironwork column made by Chattanooga Roofing and Foundry Co. spotted in the old downtown of Yazoo City, Mississippi.
A decorative rosette and diamond motif on the Chattanooga Roofing and Foundry Co. in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
A decorative rosette and diamond motif on the Chattanooga Roofing and Foundry Co. in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Geo. L. Mesker and Company Architectural Iron Works, Evansville Indiana, in Yazoo City. The column is still standing, attached to a neighboring structure, but sadly, the building is now demolished.
Geo. L. Mesker and Company Architectural Iron Works, Evansville Indiana, in Yazoo City. The column is still standing, attached to a neighboring structure, but sadly, the building is now demolished.
Geo. L. Mesker and Company Architectural Iron Works, Evansville Indiana, in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Geo. L. Mesker and Company Architectural Iron Works, Evansville Indiana, in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Nameplate on a column manufactured by Christopher & Simpson, seen in Yazoo City.
Nameplate on a column manufactured by Christopher & Simpson, seen in Yazoo City.
Iron storefront column manufactured by Christopher & Simpson found in Yazoo City.
Iron storefront column manufactured by Christopher & Simpson found in Yazoo City.
The corrosion on this nameplate makes it almost indecipherable, but it says "Made by International Steel and Iron Construction Co. Evansville, Ind."
The corrosion on this nameplate makes it almost indecipherable, but it says “Made by International Steel and Iron Construction Co. Evansville, Ind.” Found in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Nameplate that says "Made by International Steel and Iron Construction Co. Evansville, Ind." Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Nameplate that says “Made by International Steel and Iron Construction Co. Evansville, Ind.” Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Made by International Steel and Iron Construction Co. Evansville, Ind., Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Made by International Steel and Iron Construction Co. Evansville, Ind., Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Nameplate for Livermore Foundry and Machine Co., of Memphis, Tennessee, seen in Yazoo City.
Nameplate for Livermore Foundry and Machine Co., of Memphis, Tennessee, seen in Yazoo City.

New York

Rochester

Ironwork column made by W.H. Cheney, Rochester, N.Y., seen on State Street in Rochester.
Ironwork column made by W.H. Cheney, Rochester, N.Y., seen on State Street in Rochester.

Thanks for reading.

Be sure to visit me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.

~ Keith

Sources

Digital Heritage Arkansas

Genealogy Trails

Glassian.org

Got Meskers?

National Building Arts Center

Studio2108.com

Leave a Reply

Close