I am, on top of being a history geek, a bit of a map geek. I have assembled some historic Cheshire maps, some familiar, some not quite so. Old maps can tell us so much about our community and the people that lived here. Atlases from the mid to late nineteenth century, like those published by F.W. Beers & Co., are a wealth of information about property ownership as well as prominent businesses and industry in a town. Some atlases, like the one from H. & C.T. Smith, also include drawings of prominent buildings, like the State Reform School in West Meriden.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are another amazing resource. They are proprietary, so I can’t post images here, but if you have a Connecticut State Library card (unfortunately a public library card won’t work) you can access the maps here. Cheshire maps are available for 1925 and 1960 (really an updated 1925 map) and covers the center of town, though the Richlin’s plaza, the High School and the prison have inset maps. For those of you *new* to Cheshire, the Richlin’s plaza is where the YMCA & Pier One now exist. I, having grown up here, still refer to it by the name of the anchor store that once occupied it.
The Cheshire Historical Society also has a beautiful hand drawn map from 1865. It was found in the Town Clerk’s office many years ago and was sent to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts for conservation. After conservation, the town clerks office gave the map to the Historical Society, where it now hangs in the meeting room. The inscription on the map reads “by Nathan Booth C.E. 1865 copied by [illegible] T. Pa[illegible]”. It is framed by beautiful scrolls and frames within which are sketches of homes and churches around town. Only half the frames that surround the map have drawings, the others are blank or contain penciled in placeholders like “factory”. If you love art, and this map is a piece of art, I would encourage you to visit the Cheshire Historical Society some Sunday afternoon and take a look.