Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, published intermittently from 1867-1970, were designed for use by insurance companies to determine risk. The result is an unparalleled and authoritative collection of accurate and detailed urban development maps. The maps exhibit building “footprints,” construction material, fenestration, location of doors and other pertinent information. Original construction, additions and demolitions can easily be identified by comparing different years. When a legend was available, it was georeferenced in the location of the block between 4th and 5th and Cherry and Ivy Streets. Please consult the legend for structural details included on these maps.
Ownership information is an integral element in this study, the central component from which all other relational data is derived. Nearly 1600 deeds for all parcels within the project area have been identified, photographed or scanned from microfilm, and incorporated as hyperlinked resources. A chain of title originating from town founder John Bidwell through to the current owner in 1960 is complete for every parcel in the District. For every owner, there is a grantee deed proving purchase of the property and a grantor deed showing its sale to someone else. When a property owner bought an adjacent parcel, the cartographic representation of those parcels has been merged together, though no lot line adjustment was actually recorded. Short-term speculators (proprietors who held title for less than one month) have been excluded and are not inventoried as owners in the database. However, chain of title has been preserved through hyperlinks to deed records.
Individual household level census data is available for six of the ten decades under review in this study. These years are 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930. The 1890 census for all of California burned in the earthquake and subsequent fire in San Francisco in 1906. For privacy reasons, the federal government had not yet released the 1940, 1950 and 1960 census at the individual household level upon completion of this research. Street addresses were not provided on the 1870, 1880, or 1900 enumerations though occasional street names were noted in the margin. Entries which placed owners on or near the correct street were included in this collection whereas entries which located owners elsewhere were excluded. Prior to 1910, renters were precluded from inclusion to this collection due to the lack of sufficient evidence with which to associate them to a given property. Where addresses indicate the property was occupied by renters, those individuals were included in this collection.
The historical photographs collection at Chico State's Special Collections Department in the Meriam Library contains over 18,000 images of which over 2,900 have been digitized. A search was conducted on the digitized collection to identify photographs of District residents. Full names identified through both chain of title and census research provided a comprehensive account of residents throughout the historic period in the District. Where maiden and married names were uncovered through research, both surnames were used in unique searches to identify photographs associated with the individual. An exhaustive search was also conducted for digital images of structures in the District, still standing or once razed. Links to these images and their citation information are available on the Photos tabs.
In the early 1980s, a grassroots organization of concerned local citizens called the Chico Heritage Association documented over 250 historic resources throughout the City. This effort was undertaken thanks to a grant from the California State Historic Preservation Office and the City of Chico. Documentation of these resources was completed on Historic Resource Inventory (HRI) forms for 41 of the structures in the District. These forms have been scanned and hyperlinked to their corresponding parcels.
As a result of the inventory conducted in 1980s, a cluster of historic structures was identified and determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. This time every structure in the neighborhood was documented and the South Campus Historic District was placed on the National Register in 1991. Digital copies of these documents were made as part of a digitization and GIS project for the City of Chico in 2005. New color photos of each of the structures were also captured and added below the textual documentation. Hyperlinks to these resources are available on the Modern tab.