LEWISTON — There are hundreds of maps in City Hall, but this one was a surprise.
City staffers watched Thursday afternoon as Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau slit the duct tape and plastic wrapping protecting an old map found in a corner at a Lewiston Public Works shop. They clustered around to see how much the city had changed since 1936.
The hand-drawn map, measuring roughly 10 square feet, was created by former city engineer George H. Barron. It covered the downtown from the Androscoggin River south to Pleasant Street and east to Montello Street.
“We can print a map just like this today, no problem,” Lewiston police officer Tom Murphy said. “But this was something else. They did this by hand, and you can imagine the guy going around taking notes and measurements, and then sitting down to draw it.”
Murphy, an antiques enthusiast, said the map was in good shape and could fetch a good price if the city decides to sell it. The map was drawn on paper glued to a canvas backing and attached to a metal roller.
“It looks like it was designed to be hung from a wall and rolled and unrolled when staff needed it,” Murphy said. The bottom 18 inches were glued to leather to help protect the map when it was rolled up.
It was discovered in January by crews working to clear space in Public Works’ Adams Avenue shop.
“It’s just like the maps we use every day, except it doesn’t fit on a computer screen,” Nadeau said. “What can I say? We have Google. They had really big maps.”
Staff were most interested in seeing what had changed. Most of the street names were the same, but a few didn’t exist in 1936 or weren’t included on the map. Nadeau was amazed to see his old neighborhood wasn’t there.
“Simard, Albert, Biron, all the streets that made up the neighborhood I grew up in are not there,” he said.
The question is what to do with the map. Museum L-A has expressed interest in it, but Nadeau said the city has to figure out what it’s worth.
“You can’t just let city property go without knowing,” he said. Officer Murphy said he would try to get some unofficial appraisals. In the meantime, the map would be put somewhere for safekeeping, Nadeau said.
“It can’t sit in my office any more,” he said. “I don’t have room for it.”