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Bricks and Morton
the pillars of our community
for the Birds
is an initiative designed to celebrate the South and East Lake Morton neighborhood history and significance as the city’s first residential development by identifying homes that are at least 100 years old and presenting the owners with a permanent bronze marker.
The inaugural celebration occurred in the spring of 2019, and will continue indefinitely to recognize those homes that achieve the 100-year milestone in the coming years. Funding is provided through the auspices of The Maguires of Lakeland, a private entity created by Michael and Phyllis Maguire, who became residents and homeowners here in 1994.
Qualifying properties have been identified through official property records, manual research of the Sanborn Fire Maps, along with city directories and other historical resources. The maps, which offer the most authoritative information, were not updated annually, so in the meantime, as authenticated homes age into the project, they are added to the collection.
In 1987, the City of Lakeland commissioned the development of a strategic plan for encouraging the redevelopment of the South Lake Morton Historic District, then recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Research on the neighborhood was conducted on foot for comparison to the maps, and is the source for the information here. The East Lake Morton Historic District has not been as thoroughly reviewed until recently and presents some complications including street name and numbering scheme changes over the last hundred years. As a consequence, it is difficult to confirm the age of most homes in the area. There is evidence that the neighborhood has seen a great deal of change and churn, leaving only a handful of homes whose age is certain.
The Sanborn Map Company was a publisher of detailed maps of U.S. cities and towns in the 19th and 20th centuries. The maps were originally created to allow fire insurance companies to assess their total liability in urbanized areas of the United States. Since they contain detailed information about properties and individual buildings in approximately 12,000 U.S. cities and towns, Sanborn maps are invaluable for documenting changes in the built environment of American cities over many decades.
In Lakeland, these maps have been used to determine the approximate age and design of commercial and residential buildings, leading to the designation of local historic districts and nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. Since these maps were updated every few years, it is possible to determine the age of a building within a relatively narrow range. For example, if a home does not appear on the 1913 map but appears in 1917, it was obviously built during the period and certainly no later than 1917. This is possible because the maps are highly detailed and drawn to scale. A building's height, material and even porches are shown, as well as out-buildings, and of course its address.
Using these maps, all homes in the city's historic districts have been identified as to their approximate age as well as alterations over the years. The public library's Lakeland Room holds a number of these maps. Others can be found here