We live in an old house. We have never been told or been able to figure out exactly how old. The best guess the realtor could give us was 1930. I was never satisfied with that date since it seemed so vague, and ever since we moved in, I've been searching for clues as to the actual date that the house was built.
Recently, I found a way to access the old Sanborn insurance maps for Norman and lo and behold, there on the 1925 map was our little casa! It was fascinating to see our neighborhood and realize how sparse some of the surrounding areas were at that time even though we live in what I could consider to be central Norman. According to the map, Norman was a town of 12,000 in 1925.
These maps are a wealth of history and information. They were created for firefighters and insurance adjusters to know the approximate shape and size of all buildings in town as well as entrances for those structures, closest fire hydrants, etc. For instance, the map with our house is so detailed that I can clearly see the location of our original back door since our guestroom addition had not been made yet.
Here is a detail of Main St between Santa Fe and the railroad tracks. Most businesses are labeled as well as the original Interurban exchange station. Notice also the coal yard in the bottom right hand corner. Another map lists the stockyard not far from this location.
Around the same time I found this map, we were working on a project to repair the drawers of the built-in in our hallway. Some of the bottoms had come detached and needed repair. As we were working on this, I noticed a mark on the bottom of one of the drawers that said "Barker Lumber Company, Norman OK".
Intrigued, I did some research and discovered that the Barker Lumber Company had operated on Main St between 1911 and 1916 before it was sold to Minnetonka Lumber Company, and the parcel continued to function as a lumberyard until the 1940s. Currently, the site sits derelict and many in Norman want to see the remnants of the lumber yard torn down and the site repurposed. In 2014, the site was the focus of a community art initiative to bring awareness to the area: http://startnorman.com/space/
Norman is an ever-evolving historic town and I love that our house is in the heart of it. It's always been a dream of mine to live in an older home. Taking care of it and preserving it for the next generation is what it's all about.