This is a Sanborn fire map from the late 1870s. These maps were used by insurance companies to rate the fire hazards of a building. What is great about these maps is that they tell us a lot about a particular building, what it is made of and also how it was heated.

If you have ever wondered about your neighborhood in the past, these Sanborn fire maps are a real treasure trove of information.

I hope you enjoy this old map and to help you get your bearings, I have added notes about each location shown. For instance the building on the left about midway is Forest Hall, which is described as “Boarding” as it was then used as a boarding house for students. This also shows the first of three locations of Forest on this campus. It was purchased by Caleb Mills and moved to his land near campus from its original location overlooking Sugar Creek. Mills later donated it to the College.

The building located on the left, at bottom and labelled “Museum” is the old Polytechnic building which was repurposed as the Hovey Museum. Roughly on the spot where our Amory/Gymnasium is today.

In the middle of what we now call The Mall is a power plant which was built to power the machinery in Peck Hall, home to physics [natural philosophy as it was called then] and Chemistry.

As to a date on this map, we know it is post 1872 as it shows the wings of Center Hall, completed by 1872. We also know that Peck Hall went up in 1878, so it is later than that. The map is older than 1890 as that is when Yandes [now Detchon] was completed.

All best,

Beth Swift


Wabash College

Crawfordsville, Indiana