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Denver Building History Resources

A comprehensive guide to locating frequently used Denver building history resources, including building permits, assessor records, Sanborn fire insurance maps, real estate atlases, and directories.

For more detailed information about building history resources and how to use them, see the Denver Building History Tutorial.

Building Permits

For permits 1889–1892, 1900–​1914:

For permits 1915–1955:

  • Available on microfilm in WHG; arranged alphabetically by street, then house number 

For permit information 1955–early 1980s:

  • Permits for 1970 to present are kept by the City and County of Denver and are available at the Building Records counter, located on the 2nd floor of the Wellington Webb Municipal Building at 201 W. Colfax Ave.
  • Please note that official permit records for 1955–1969 do NOT exist
  • You may be able to find supplemental building permit information in the following microfilm available at WHG (note that these resources have not been indexed): 
Assessor Records & Deed Information

1859-1884

Late 1800s–1950s

Late 1950s–early 1980s

Current information

Additional resource: 

Available through the Denver Clerk and Recorder

1859-1986

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
From the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has digitized the following full-color Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Denver:

  • 1887 - Central Business District, Auraria
  • 1890, volume 1 - Auraria, Lincoln Park, Baker, Civic Center
  • 1890, volume 2 - Union Station; portions of Highland, Five Points, Cole, Whittier, Elyria Swansea
  • 1893, volume 3 - portions of Five Points, Whittier, North Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, City Park West, Elyria Swansea, Sunnyside, Berkeley, West Highland, Sloan Lake, Sun Valley, Villa Park
  • 1903, volume 1 - Auraria, Lincoln Park; portions of Baker, Platt Park, Overland
  • 1903, volume 2 - Union Station, Five Points, Cole, Whittier, Elyria Swansea
  • 1904, volume 3 - portions of Whittier, Five Points, North Capitol Hill, City Park West, City Park, Congress Park, Cheesman Park, Capitol Hill, Cherry Creek, Washington Park West, Speer
  • 1904, volume 4 - portions of Highland, Jefferson Park, Sloan Lake, West Highland, Berkeley, Sunnyside, Globeville, Chaffee Park
  • May 1904 - Auraria, Union Station, Central Business District; portion of North Capitol Hill
From Proquest Digital Sanborn Maps (available with DPL library card)

Proquest Digital Sanborn Maps (available with DPL library card) has black-and-white Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Denver for the years:

  • 1887
  • 1890–1893
  • 1903–1904
  • 1929–1930
  • 1929–December 1951 (includes paste-overs)
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Available in the Western History Genealogy department
  • 1887 (one volume)
  • 1890–1893 (three volumes - on microfiche)
  • 1903–1904 with paste-overs through 1925 (four volumes)
  • 1929–1930 with paste-overs through 1961 (eleven volumes)
  • 1974 (incomplete, three volumes)
Denver Directories
Available through the Western History and Genealogy Department
  • 1866-1981 city directories on microfilm
    • 1873-1923 available in the Digital Collections
  • 1899, 1913, 1960-1996 hardcover Polk Directories
  • 1924-2018 hardcover/softcover Householder/Criss-Cross Directories (arranged alphabetically by street) 
  • Colorado business directories available for 1875-1943, 1950, 1956
Available through Ancestry Library Edition

Ancestry Library Edition (available with library card) provides city directories from 1866, 1871-1979.

Available through the Library of Congress
Architectural Plans
Available through the Western History and Genealogy Department
Other Sources

Stephen H. Hart Research Center at History Colorado

The Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL): a collection of over 12,000 American and Canadian, pre-1964 architectural trade catalogs, house plan books and technical building guides.