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Researching what your old house looked like

Posted by terrypy (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 13:15

I don't know that I've ever seen this information posted here and while replying to someones question thought I should just post this for everyone. If you'd like to see what your town looked like in 1910, etc. or your home in 1919...check out the Sanborn Maps (usually available through your state library sites online). Sanborn maps were done all over the US for fire insurance purposes. Someone actually went from home to home minimally surveying the structures and streets. They outline the town, the buildings, streets, etc. along with your home, including what its made of, its size and shape, etc. I've attached a simple one of my home a 1913 American Foursquare in Texas. D=dwelling, x=shingle roof, yellow = frame structure, 1-2=stories and the legend is extensive depending on structure. So this shows that our home has not changed other than the out building (now has detached garage). Dashed lines indicate open walls porch across the full front (1 story) and a 2 story porch on the back.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Researching what your old house looked like

I've been looking for something just like this...thanks!


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RE: Researching what your old house looked like

I wanted to respond earlier to say how helpful the Sanborn maps were to me. But I wanted this thread to hang at the top for a while.

It is an extraordinary tool for house history buffs. And you realize how much work it took to compile and maintain - amazing!


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RE: Researching what your old house looked like

I bought a Sanborn map of our neighborhood, framed, as a gift for my DH. It not only shows our house, but the name of the owner. With that I was able to find out lots of interesting info. A great resource.


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RE: Researching what your old house looked like

Thanks for posting this info.

I was not able to find my house--apparently it was too far out from the city center to map, although the later maps did have my street shown.

But my parents' house is there, with the front and back porches, the bay windows and the bow window, and the symbol for "slate or tin roof." The house still has the original slate roof and all its porches, even though it's been sold. But apparently the garage was built long after the house was. And there was a "lane" between our house and the neighbor on the left side. Who knew?

Is it silly that I love finding out this stuff?


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