Last week’s survey on whether readers ever researched a house history prompted a number of readers to share their stories.
Joan Schacht of Chesterfield, Missouri:
When my daughter purchased a house in St. Louis, I discovered that city records stated it was built in 1910, but city directories and Sanborn maps listed the lot as empty until 1951. The all-brick house appeared to be about 100 years old but the cinder block basement didn’t seem to fit. After spending six hours researching at city hall, I learned it was the house that was out of place. The house was moved from a location across the street onto a new foundation in 1950. Now I get to research the history of the house on its original plot, and I have already learned online that the 1950 sellers had purchased the house in 1912.
Jane Potyondy of Contoocook, New Hampshire:
I remember doing a project in high school tracing the history of my 1830 home in Winchester, Massachusetts. We had in our possession the original floor plans, copies of the bills for labor costs and building supplies, and more. My mother and I went to the county courthouse in Cambridge where we pored through all the grantor/grantee books, tracing the ownership of the house. Paging through the old tomes, looking through the stacks . . . perhaps this was what triggered my interest in tracing the family. I had forgotten about this until you posed the question. Thanks for the memory!
Gene Hullinghorst of Ann Arbor, Michigan:
The Collins C. Diboll Vieux Carré Digital Survey, a project of The Historic New Orleans Collection, allows users to search for the history, images, and prior owners of structures and lots in the French Quarter, from the French colonial period to the present. Unfortunately, my ancestors did not own a building in the Quarter but other family members did.
Renee Pizzo of Scappose, Oregon:
We are only the fourth owners of our 1885 house in Columbia County, Oregon. The granddaughter of the second owner lives down the road, and was born in the house across the road from ours. Our road was even named after the original owner of the house. In 2010, when we purchased and refurbished the house, we found several interesting items — newspapers from 1928, shipping labels addressed to the second owner for linoleum shipped to the house, and a tintype of an unidentified young man — in the wall below a window. As time permits, I will continue my research.