Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Shed Light on Neighborhood

HDC is in the process of finalizing an individual nomination of the Baker Brothers Wholesale Grocery building in Zanesville, Ohio, located just east of the historic Y bridge on Main Street. The building was constructed in 1894. After the 1913 flood that destroyed much of downtown Zanesville, the Baker Brothers constructed an addition in less than a year and encouraged other businesses to rebuild. The company remained in business until closing in 1970. In 1978, a one-story addition was constructed on the west side of the building as a furniture showroom. The building was subsequently renovated for use as offices and a school, with most of the work impacting the 1913 and 1978 additions. The building has sat vacant for the past several years, but the current owner has plans to rehabilitate it!

    The 4-story red brick building was constructed in 1894 and the 4-story yellow brick addition was built in 1913 (left). The interior of the original building retains almost all of its historic character (right).

Since the building was built and occupied by one company for decades, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are particularly useful in determining how the building and neighborhood evolved. The 1886 Sanborn map shows that a glass manufacturing company occupied a large portion of land along the river before the Baker Brothers purchased the parcel at the southwest corner of Main and S. First Street. The 1895 map shows the new building with an elevator and stairs in the rear. The elevator still exists, but the stair run from the first to the second floor was closed when a new stair closer to the center of the building was constructed. The 1919 map shows the 1913 addition and the presence of two new elevators in the addition, one of which still exists.

The 1886 map shows the site occupied by the window glass plant of the Kearns Gorsuch Glass Company.
              The 1895 map (left) shows the 1894 building on the site of the former glass factory. The 1919 map (right) shows the 1894 building and the 1913 addition along with warehouses that are no longer standing.