Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Sanborn Map Company Opened a Map School in Pelham Before Opening its New Map Factory in 1906

Nestled in the northern reaches of the Town of Pelham adjacent to the beautiful residential neighborhood known as Chester Park with its lovely central green is a building known as the Sanborn Map Building.  The Sanborn Map Building was built in 1906. In it the Sanborn Map Company produced maps for insurance company customers for many decades. 

The company's predecessor, founded by D. A. Sanborn in 1866, gained national recognition in the 19th century for its incredibly detailed fire insurance maps. The "Sanborn Map and Publishing Company, Limited" was established at the office of the Continental Insurance Company in New York in 1876.

By the early 20th century the company had changed its name to the Sanborn Map Company and had decided to build a massive "map factory" in the Village of North Pelham adjacent to Chester Park.  Construction began in 1906.  

The story of the Sanborn Map Building in Pelham has been told before.  See, e.g.:

Tue., Mar. 14, 2017:  The Sanborn Map Company Water Tower in North Pelham.

Mon., Nov. 28, 2005:  The Historic Sanborn Map Building In The Village of Pelham.

Bell, Blake A., The Sanborn Map Company and its Pelham Headquarters, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XV, Issue 14, Apr. 7, 2006, p. 10, col. 1.

Though many in Pelham know the story of the Sanborn Map Building, few know that before the building was built in 1906, the Sanborn Map Company operated a map-making school in a building owned by Philip Godfrey located on Fourth Avenue near Second Street.

It appears that the Sanborn Map Company hoped to hit the ground running in Pelham.  Thus, months before it opened its new map factory next to Chester Park, it decided to open a map-making school to train those scheduled to work in the factory how to craft insurance maps like those sold by the company.  

The company arranged to use the second and third floors of a newly-constructed building on Fourth Avenue owned by Philip Godfrey.  The structure was located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Second Street.  (The structure no longer exists.  It was in an area now covered by the parking lot behind De Cicco and Son's Market.)  Philip Godfrey was a notable resident of the Village of North Pelham who served as a member of the Relief Hook and Ladder Company of the First Fire District for about thirty years.
Sanborn Map workers reported for training at the makeshift school on Tuesday, May 1, 1906.  A local newspaper reported breathlessly as follows:  "The opening of this school simply means the beginning of a new era for North Pelham and will doubtless mean much to the village."

The makeshift school seems only to have operated for a few months until completion of the Sanborn Map Building in 1906 and and the opening of the new building in early 1907.

Sanborn Map Building in 2003.  Photograph by the Author.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Detail of 1908 Map Showing Location of "P. Godfrey" Building.
Source: Fairchild, John F., "City of Mount Vernon and Town of Pelham" in
Atlas of the City of Mount Vernon and the Town of Pelham Second Edition
Compiled from Official Records, Personal Surveys, and other Private Plans
and Surveys, Plate 27 (Mount Vernon, NY: John F. Fairchild, 1908).
NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

Sanborn Company Will Open a Course of Instruction for Workmen

North Pelham, April 30. -- It was learned this morning that the Sanborne [sic] Map Factory will establish a school in North Pelham, in which instruction will be given the employees in map making.  This will be somewhat of a novel departure, and will probably interest a good many people.

The school will be established on the second and third floors of the three story building erected by Philip Godfrey on Fourth avenue near Second street.  The school will be opened Tuesday morning, at which time the first group of men to be employed by the factory will report for instruction.

The idea of the Sanborne [sic] Map company to take these rooms is to break the men in who are to enter the employ of the factory.  The rooms will be properly fitted with tables and the necessary paraphernalia.  It could not be ascertained today, the nature of the work that these men are to learn, but it probably is some of the most important to be done by the factory.

The opening of this school simply means the beginning of a new era for North Pelham and will doubtless mean much to the village."

Source:  MAP FACTORY'S SCHOOL IS AT NORTH PELHAM -- Sanborn Company Will Open a Course of Instruction for Workmen -- QUARTERS IN NEW HOUSE NOW ON FOURTH AVENUE, Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 30, 1906, No. 4304, p. 1, col. 2.

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