Pueblo County Presents
How To Research Historic Buildings

From the Pueblo Library District

Pueblo City-County Library District's Western Research Room has many tools that will aid the person who is researching the history of an old building. Begin with the Pueblo Sanborn (city) Insurance maps for 1883, 1886, 1889, 1904, 1941, and 1952. The maps provide the size of the building, construction materials, the number of floors, and the use of the building.

The Sanborn maps can also help you understand the neighborhood. For example, in 1883 on Union Avenue between B and C Streets, there were two drug stores, two dry goods stores, a meat market, a cigar factory, two barbers, and nine saloons.

One assumes that a number of single men lived in the area. You could verify that by looking at the U.S. censuses for 1870, 1880, 1885, 1900, 1910 or 1920. The censuses will provide you with names, ages, family members, occupations, and places of birth of the residents.

The next step is the Pueblo city directories from 1886 to the present. From 1914 on, the city directories have a listing by street as well as by name. Prior to 1914, you have to trace the building either by the business or by the owner.

If you have a copy of the title abstract, you can use it to identify people who have been associated with the building. Check these names in the city directories to verify the date they occupied the building. By working back year by year, you can see how the building has been used each year, and learn about the people who have lived and worked within its walls.

The next step is to check the general histories and guides to Pueblo history to see if any of the people played a significant role in the community at large, or if any event of note occurred in the building.

To continue the search, there are the local newspapers, maps dating from 1874, city plats and much more. At the end of the year, The Chieftain used to publish a listing of buildings that had been constructed during the past year. The publication dates range from late December to mid-January.

Don't forget oral interviews with older residents of the area. They are often invaluable resources that add amusing human stories to the history of the building.

The Library has a large historic photograph collection that is especially useful when researching commercial buildings.

Once you complete your building history, please make a copy of your results for the Western Research Room, so that others may share in your findings.
Issued June, 2000

to the Pueblo County Index Page.

Please e-mail comments and suggestions to Karen Mitchell© Karen Mitchell