The restored map of the frontier village of Buffalo shows about five dozen residences and businesses, months before it was torched to the ground during the War of 1812.
The map will commemorate the burning by being displayed in December in the Grosvenor Room of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s Central Library. The Grosvenor Room is named in honor of Seth Grosvenor, one of the fledgling village’s prominent merchants and an early library benefactor.
The hand-drawn map by Charles North, drawn in 1917, was fashioned from an early sketch from merchant Juba Storrs in April 1813 – eight months before British troops laid siege in retaliation for the Americans’ burning of Newark, now called Niagara-on-the-Lake, across the Niagara River in Ontario.
“We think this is really exciting, but because of the timeliness of it – the War of 1812 – we’re going to be able to showcase it before the actual 200th anniversary in December,” said Marguerite Cheman, manager of special collections. “It also shows the original settlers of Buffalo and the builders of Buffalo.”
The six-month conservation project was completed by Clarence resident Patricia Hamm of Hammarts, a nationally recognized conservator. She had to stabilize the paper and clean the surface of coal tar, dirt and other debris.
The map borders Washington and Franklin streets, to Exchange and Chippewa streets, showing the first blocks of Buffalo’s original, acclaimed radial street plan designed by agent Joseph Ellicott of the Holland Land Company.
It depicts the locations of the courthouse, jail and taverns, as well as merchants such as the shoemaker and watchmaker, and prominent citizens including Dr. Cyrenius Chapin and Ebenezer Walden.
The restoration of the map – one of about 80 focusing on Buffalo that are stored at the library – was made possible through a $1,370 grant from the Greater Hudson Heritage Network. Cheman said the library is also seeking a state grant to preserve a map that shows a very different side of Buffalo’s early history.
“There’s a really cool map that we want to get preserved on the red light canal district, which shows the actual brothels in that area,” she said.