Construct a House History
Hammer out the history of your own home or an ancestral abode with these six simple DIY steps.
Whether it’s your own home, the stately painted lady on the corner or the dilapidated farmhouse where your great-grandparents raised their eight children—questions start to form in the mind. Genealogists are naturally curious creatures, and we want to know not only about people, but also about the places where they lived their lives. You might wonder who wandered the hallways of your own home before you did. When was that venerable Victorian built? And for whom? What stories does that long-neglected farmhouse hold about your ancestors?
“The house and all its changes allow [you] to physically connect with the stories of families who’ve left nothing behind but the house itself,” says New England house historian Marian Pierre-Louis.
How do you find the answers to these questions? By constructing a house history. Researching the history of a house isn’t that different from doing traditional genealogy. The information and records you need are at many of the same repositories and resources you consult in your family search. I’ll even venture to say there are distinct advantages to researching a subject that stays in place. Families migrate, but with very few exceptions, houses don’t—and that narrows the majority of your search to a specific town or county.
So grab your lunch pail, strap on some work boots and follow this blueprint for building a house history from the ground up.