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Arcade 1.3

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Part of Agincourt’s organic nature has been the occasional interdependence of its contributors, which is a fancy way to say my next project could be shaped by someone else. Time to contact Mark Roelofs who’s created the Dutch presence in the Muskrat Valley. His timeline and at least a few of his characters are likely to influence the sequence of site acquisition and renovation I had in mind eight to ten years ago.

See those three parallel rectangles in the upper right corner of the block. The three Victorian storefronts were independent 25-foot structures, probably two story, built during the 1880s. Commercial buildings of that type and vintage employed various materials — brick and stone, wood, cast iron and pressed galvanized metal — in characteristic Victorian exuberance. And very often they came as “kits” from a few regional suppliers such as Mesker Brothers Iron Works (St. Louis, MO) and George L. Mesker Co. (Evansville, IN). The Arcola, Illinois News-Gazette reported the recent restoration of a Mesker facade:

These prefabricated, ornamental facades – designed to look like expensive stonework but at about a fifth the cost – were made of interchangeable galvanized steel panels with cast iron decorative components. Store owners could buy an entire facade, or individual architectural embellishments. These were installed over a wooden framework.

The Mesker Brothers Iron Works of St. Louis and the George L. Mesker Co. of Evansville, Ind. – owned by brothers but operating independently – cornered the Midwest galvanized storefront market, and the durable facades they produced grace downtown buildings in every part of Illinois.

Here are two models from a Mesker catalogue:

mesker-bros-1

The corner building — facing east on South Broad Street, with a long side elevation on Agincourt Avenue facing The Square — probably deviated from the Mesker norm, but those to its left occupied standard 25 x 140 urban commercial lots. At this point, Mr Roelofs and I need to collaborate.

mesker-bros-2


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