Those who know, know Martenet.

Recognized for generations as the go-to place for property lines and other title solutions in the Baltimore region, S.J. Martenet & Co. offers its clients unparalleled understanding of Maryland's land tenure system. Have a boundary dispute? Riparian rights issues? We can assist. 175 years old, the firm has had a part in Baltimore's development since before the Civil War. We know of no older surveying firm in the nation.

What sets us apart? Deep expertise in the subject matter. Our people don't just claim to be leaders in the surveying field, they really are. Nationally recognized.

And our archives are known across the country as an example of how survey archives can be done right. Their breadth, depth and accessibility have no equal in Maryland, public or private. Not only do we maintain our own extensive collection, we are the record custodians of four other regional firms, and are the easiest route to accessing ancient surveying records of the central Maryland area. Something over 70,000 surveys live here, most of the material digital and online. More than that, we maintain massive amounts of "contextual material" concerning the land parcel fabric of the region, such as official government actions, title abstracts and historical compilations, all indexed and easily available. Our goal is to be the first and last source of land information for central Maryland.

Why do archives matter?

Although surveying is perceived as an exact science, a couple of things conspire against the notion. For one thing, there is no such thing as a perfect measurement, and there never has been. All instruments have built-in sources of error, environmental conditions influence things, and the perfect instrument operator has not yet been born. But land transactions depending on those old, inexact surveys still happened. Sellers sold and buyers bought. So those 300-year-old property lines created by those imperfect mortals with their imperfect instruments can still be the legal limits of property. If we only knew where.

An unsolvable dilemma? Perhaps not.

It turns out that surveying archives shed light on these sorts of problems. By using contextual and other information in the supporting files, we can reproduce with greater fidelity those intangible property lines. And the closer in time the file is to the original transaction, the better. It's similar to comparing photocopies: a first generation photocopy produces a fair image. By the eighth or ninth generation, however, the copies aren't so great. Property surveying has the same characteristics. Knowing this, many surveyors have for years consulted our records while conducting boundary surveys in the area.

Are we a step back in time?

In a way. Our approach to quality is the same as it was a century and a half ago, but we now employ the latest technologies to achieve that goal. Our workflow is completely digital, which aids in speed and in ease of distribution.

So leave your property riddles on our doorstep. Forewarned is forearmed, we say. Know what (and where) the problems are, then fix them.

It's what we do.