Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Champion House is within the Old Belleville Historical district, listed on the national historic register of places, and furthermore, its a part of the locally designated historic Belleville neighborhood. Changes cannot be made that change the visual appearance or historical nature of these homes without approval from the local xxx ommission.

The front porch on Champion House is a simple structure which covers some architectural features unique to Champion House, highly detailed wood paneling and columns in the Italianate style around the front door and front entry area. My desire was to delete the porch overhang, to expose the amazing woodwork it was masking. I went to the historical society board, and they told me two key things:

  • I can delete the porch if it wasn’t original to the home in 1854
  • I may be able to determine whether the porch was there by finding and examining Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, which could be found in the Library of Congress

I soon discovered that Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps were neighborhood and city level maps made by hand in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, detailing buildings and infrastructure relevant to Fire Departments in those times. The maps conta9n streets, houses, markings for boilers, water sources, and other items useful to Firefighters at the time.

I located these maps – I was not able to determine exactly whether the porch was overhang was in place in 1854, but I did see evidence of some kind of porch in 1896.

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