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Denver Building History Resources

A comprehensive guide to locating frequently used Denver building history resources, including building permits, property 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 YEARS 1889–1892, 1900–​1914:

FOR YEARS 1915–1955:

FOR YEARS 1955 – early 1980s:

Property Records


Late 1800s–1950s

Late 1950s–early 1980s

Current information

Additional resource: 

Available through the Denver Clerk and Recorder


Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
From the Library of Congress

Library of Congress' Sanborn Volume Finder: Denver provides access to digitized, full-color Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Denver for the years:

  • 1887
  • 1890-1893
  • 1903-1904

NOTE: This tool also shows which areas of Denver the 1929-1930 and 1950-1951 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps cover. The 1929-1930 and 1951 maps themselves can be accessed through Proquest Digital Sanborn Maps or in the Western History and Genealogy department.

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)
  • 1961–1969 (ten 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.