Before you begin, it is a good idea to assemble as much information as you can about your house. Obviously your address is the first piece of information you should have. Second, it is helpful to know the legal description of your property according to City Parish Records. You can find this on your mortgage or deed papers or on the City Parish's Property Lookup Tool. You can search the database by entering the address of your house. The legal description includes the lot and block number and the legal name of your subdivision. Be careful! What you think your subdivision is named may not be its legal name. As land was divided, it often kept the name of the original owner as its subdivision name. Using this information you can begin to search through the different resources below.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Library maintains a database Fire Insurance Maps Online (also known as Sanborn Insurance Maps). These maps begin in 1885 and run through the 1960's. The Sanborn Fire Insurance company did standing building structures in incorporated areas of municipalities. Note that areas of incorporation move outward from the city center as municipalities grow. The older your home, the more likely it will be to appear on these maps. Homes built outside of the incorporated area and more recent construction will not be included in this resource.
These maps will track address changes that often occurred with municipal growth. As cities developed street names and building numbers were sometimes changed and knowing an accurate original address can help you find more information about your property. When you look at a property sometimes two street numbers will be listed. The street number closest to the lot will be the address current for that year. The one farther away will be the older (and most likely original address of the home). Also keep in mind Baton Rouge had two episodes of street name changes, one in the 1920's and one in 1947. The name of your street may have changed since your home was built.
Before you begin using the maps, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the key. Sanborn Maps contain many layers of information including the footprint of the home, construction material, locations of doors and windows, numbers of stories and sometimes even construction dates and the names of the businesses that occupied the structures. Much of this information is relayed through color coding and symbols.
Along with the Fire Insurance Maps Online database, the Baton Rouge Room Archives has two sets physical sets of Baton Rouge Sanborn Maps. The first set was last updated in April of 1960, the second set in February of 1964.
Volume 1: Covers the river to roughly Acadian Throughway from Government to the Capitol Lakes.
Volume 2: North Baton Rouge from the Capitol Lakes to shows the industrial areas and the airport.
Volume 3: South and west of the city, going down to the southern parish line.
The method of updating used was pasting cutouts of the changes over the existing maps. As a consequence, earlier structures are not always visible. Another obstacle that results from this type of updating is that if the date of construction is not included with on the updated structure, there is no way to pinpoint the date.
If you would like to view the physical maps please call 225-231-3752 to schedule an appointment.
The Advocate and Times Picayune Historical Archive:
The East Baton Rouge Parish Library provides access to digitized full scans of the State Times/Morning Advocate/Advocate newspapers (1842-2018) as well as the New Orleans Times Picayune newspapers (1834-1989) . These key-word serchable papers of record can provide clues to the history of your home in multiple ways. Advertisements for property, records of sales, permits and even social events that occurred in your home can be found by searching your address or the names of the people that lived in your home.
*You must have a valid East Baton Rouge Parish Library card to access this database*. Here you will find full scans of Baton Rouge Newspapers dating from 1842 to the present and the New Orleans Times Picayune dating from 1832 to 1989 ( text only from 1990 to the present).
First published in the late 19th century, a City Directory is a listing of residents, streets, businesses, organizations or institutions, giving their location in a incorporated metropolitan area. Listings in these directories are divided into sections: By name, by address and by phone number. Later editions included advertisements which were the precursor to today's yellow pages.
City Directories can offer clues to the history of your home. You can determine the year it was built by when your address first appears in the directory. You can also find out who lived in your home during a given time period. Listings can also indicate if the resident was an owner or tenant, place of employment, number of children in the home, race and place of employment.
The Special Collections Department has City Directories starting in 1903 through the present. You must come view these books in person at the Main Library at Goodwood.
Louisiana Office of Cultural Development Division of Historic Preservation offers tax incentives to property owners who rehabilitate historic properties. The 20% State Commercial Tax Credit was created in 2002 by the Louisiana Legislature to encourage the redevelopment of income-producing historic buildings in Louisiana's Downtown Development Districts. In 2007, the enabling program legislation was amended to allow historic buildings located in certified Cultural Districts to be program-eligible.