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Discovering Lost Buildings


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The Wisconsin Historical Society maintains the Wisconsin History and Architecture Inventory (AHI), consisting of approximately 120,000 properties surveyed by architectural historians or preservation consultants. The inventory has been assembled over a period of more than 25 years from a wide variety of sources. In many cases, the information is dated and properties may be altered or no longer exist. The majority of properties included in this inventory are privately owned and not open to the public. After 25 years of data collection, there are numerous difficulties with inaccurate addresses. Nearly 10,000 properties have errors, which makes it difficult to map out using a geocoder and have to be entered manually and validated with primary and secondary online sources. I will share how Historic Preservationist are using GIS and what online resources I use to validate and find historic sites from the past.

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Discovering Lost Buildings

  1. 1. Lost Buildings Using GIS and online Maps to Geolocate Historic Structures.  Michael Bricknell Wisconsin Historical Society Historic Preservation Specialist [email_address]
  2. 2. My Task: <ul><li>To update the Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory (AHI). </li></ul><ul><li>Geolocate 10,000 properties which have incomplete addresses. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NW CNR of Front St and Spring St </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>CHURCH ST (no postal number) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gov't Lot #6 - Red Ceder Lake </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(or a blank address) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Share what free resources I have found useful in locating properties with little information. </li></ul>
  3. 4. SOURCES <ul><li>Paper Maps (Historic and Current) </li></ul><ul><li>County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) </li></ul><ul><li>Aerial Photography (Oblique and Vertical) </li></ul><ul><li>Library of Congress - American Memory Maps (LOC) </li></ul><ul><li>Bird's Eye maps (LOC and HistoricMapWorks) </li></ul><ul><li>Sanborn Insurance maps (not free online, but useful) </li></ul><ul><li>Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) </li></ul><ul><li>Photo Service Websites (Flickr, Photosynth, PicasaWeb) </li></ul><ul><li>Wisconsin Architecture & History Inventory (AHI) </li></ul>
  4. 5. <ul><li>1. Check the Wisconsin Architecture & History Inventory (AHI) for any information. (address, plss, physical description, is it demolished?) ~120,000 records </li></ul><ul><li>2.Validate the address, if it has one, on the County’s GIS website. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Check the address in Google Maps - Street View and Bing Maps - Bird's Eye View (if available). </li></ul><ul><li>4. If no address or conflicting results, I need to validate it with a primary or secondary resources. </li></ul>Steps
  5. 6. AHI Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory <ul><ul><li>Who needs access to this information? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Genealogists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engineers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Architects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Architectural Historians </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preservationist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Property Owners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students </li></ul></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  6. 11. <ul><li>Library of Congress – American Memory </li></ul>LOC
  7. 17. SOS!
  8. 21. Historic Map Works
  9. 25. WHAIFinder
  10. 28. <ul><li>Google Street View </li></ul>Google <ul><li>Bing’s Bird’s eye view. (Oblique Photography) </li></ul>BING
  11. 29. Example 1 AHI # 4076 County: BURNETT  Property Address: S WILLIAMS RD  Civil Town: WOOD RIVER  Surveyed: 1978
  12. 37. Is this really the correct address?
  13. 41. 23138 not 23001
  14. 48. But there’s more I can do.
  15. 53. Example 2 AHI # 15566   County: ASHLAND  Property Address: SE CNR OF E 4TH AVE AND FRONT ST    City or Village: Ashland   Surveyed: 1975
  16. 54. Google has failed me once again… Very poor imagery of Ashland AND no Front St and 4 th Ave… but wait…
  17. 56. Nothing there?
  18. 58. Prentice Ave (4 th Ave) Front Street
  19. 60. 1886 1890
  20. 62. Example 3 AHI # 46630   County: BUFFALO  Property Address: COUNTY HIGHWAY U    Civil Town: WAUMANDEE   Surveyed: 1994 Artist: Louis Zeller
  21. 63. Check the SOS!
  22. 68. Example 4 AHI # 132919   County: COLUMBIA    Property Address: No Address Civil Town: DEKORRA    Surveyed: ? Historic Name: WILLIAM BLACK FARM NO PICTURE
  23. 73. Example 5 AHI # 54563   County: FOND DU LAC     Property Address: W MCWILLIAMS RD, BETW. MILITARY RD & DOTY  City: FOND DU LAC    Surveyed: 1974
  24. 78. Conclusion <ul><li>3 years ago this would not have been possible. New and innovative web services have been developed. </li></ul><ul><li>No traveling required! </li></ul><ul><li>As more historical collections become available online the easier it is to validate a resource. </li></ul><ul><li>County GIS data is vital and essential to what I do. </li></ul><ul><li>What will be next? </li></ul>
  25. 79. Questions? <ul><li>Michael Bricknell </li></ul><ul><li>Historic Preservation Specialist </li></ul><ul><li>Wisconsin Historical Society </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>