Backstage Pass: House Hunting

by the Mystery Man, volunteer

Our anonymous volunteer, affectionately called the Mystery Man, hunts down “missing” properties, homes, buildings, and other structures lost to the sands of time. Using a combination of GPS tools, aerial maps and photos, a compass, and good old ingenuity, he scours the city streets and countryside until he finds what he’s looking for.

“Referencing the home in question to the Court House and Masonic Hall, as seen in the old photograph, Sanborn maps were used in conjunction with compass readings derived from a foot survey of the downtown vicinity. This provided the necessary true north designations for a plat sheet to be used in the field. Creating multiple position readings of the four upper port holes in the Court House tower and the six arches directly below in the copula, confirmed the house in the photo would be facing within a southern quadrant of a city block.

“Using a variety of Sanborn maps dated from 1886 through 1924, enough information provided measurements to calculate a distance between the Court House and Masonic Hall. Estimating the distance of the house in the photo, equal that of the Court House to the Masonic Hall, compass bearings were applied. The Masonic Hall read 68*+/- N/W and inverse 221* +/- S/E. These coordinates were then applied to the field maps derived from the walking survey. Tentatively the house once stood somewhere between 4th and 5th Street (north/south), with Brown and Coombs Street (east/west).

“Sanborn maps revealed an interesting discovery using this information:
1886: shows a residence at 14 5th St.
1891: 14 5th St. address changed to 212 5th St.
1901: 212 5th St remains 212 5th St.
1910: Residence remains 212 5th St. with additional structure on same property addressed as 210 5th St.
1924: Residence address changed from 212 5th St. to 1120 5th St, and 210 5th St. changed to 1118 5th St.

“It is concluded with the field investigation, walking survey, Sanborn maps and compass readings the house in question was 1120 5th St. That area today is the new city parking garage near the end of Main St.”