Sanborn maps were created by the Sanborn company for fire insurance purposes. For over one hundred years, Sanborn mapped 12,000 American cities, and Holyoke was one of the 12,000. The thought was: we could use Sanborn maps to see when our house was built.
The Holyoke History Room has photocopies of the Holyoke Sanborn Map from 1897. Our house is not pictured on that map, though the duplex that once stood on the lot next door is pictured. The Holyoke History Room also had a 1911 LJ Richards Map, on which our house IS pictured. So, our house was built sometime between 1897 and 1911.
Wistariahurst Museum has Holyoke city directories going back to the 1880s. Our city historian and Wistariahurst Curator pulled the directories from 1911 to 1898 in reverse order. In 1911, Mr. Hyland lived in our house. In 1910 he lived in our house. In 1909, he lived in our house, and...okay, I'll spare you the suspense - the first year he lived in the house was 1899. We can deduce - therefore - that our house was built between 1898-1899! To confirm this, I need to look at a Sanborn Map directory from 1898 and 1899. Digital Sanborn maps are available from academic libraries who subscribe to the online database. In our case, UMass/Amherst is the closest library to carry the subscription.