01/20/10 254 W - + 14 - 13 Finding Addresses of Old

Fire reports from the 1920s and later. Many but not all have addresses. Some simply include business names. Motor Service Company. Raleigh Roofing Service. Grand Theatre. Etcetera. And some of the business names aren't entirely legible. How does one find those address and enhance their data? The time-intensive solution is going straight to the incident account. The newspaper report, or the arriving company log book. But there's a faster solution.

City directories. They're on the shelves at Olivia Raney Local History Library, and bound in protective covers. The contents are original, though, so you have to be gentle when reading them. These directories are like modern phone books, with alphabetical listings and then business listings. They also have street listings, showing the building number and occupant for every street in the city. That list includes the cross street, which can help when tracking down locations. Ditto for illegible street names, such as what looks like Cammister Street, but that's really Canister Street. That ran south from Cannon Street. Neither exists today.

In the above examples, simply turn to the alphabetical listings and look for, say, Motor Service Company, which had a major fire on January 25, 1925. The city directory from that year lists their address as 115-117 S. Salisbury Street. They also had a major fire in 1936, and the fire report again lists only the business name. So the same address applies? Negative. Check the city directory for 1936, or perhaps 1935, and confirm. The business may have moved after the last fire!

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