So, you’ve set yourself the task of restoring your period home to its former glory. Finding out how an old house once looked is like becoming a detective. You have to piece together many different clues to give you a sense of your home’s history. Here are some helpful resources to help you to know more about your home’s history and how it originally appeared.
Neighbors may possess a surprisingly rich knowledge of your home’s history and the surrounding area. Speak to neighbors, especially elderly ones who have lived in the area for a long time. They may be able to tell you exactly when the house was built or how it once looked. Ask them to tell you everything they know about the house and the area.
Neighbor’s houses can tell their own story. Observing the style and period of your neighbors’ homes can reveal clues about your own. For instance, if your house is a very similar style to your neighbor’s which was built in 1930 – you can reasonably assume that your house also dates from this period.
The house itself can tell you a lot about its history and how it once appeared. Observe what materials were used, later changes and alterations to the design and style features. Do some research on different periods of houses, particularly in you area. This will allow you to link together your house with a particular era.
Some houses have more obvious details which help you to know about its history – for instance, the date it was built could be inscribed into a lock or brick. Check attic and other hidden spaces for remnants of a home’s history, such as old maps, clothing or books.
Visit your local courthouse to find out if there are any old maps of surveys which include your home. You might be surprised at how much information you find. Perhaps you will be able to view a collection of old photos of the area.
You can also search the library or the Internet for historical information on your home’s location. Many history buffs have taken to the Internet to publish photos, maps and family information.
When you purchase a house, don’t just pay attention to modern appliances such as dishwashers and stoves! It’s a good opportunity to get as much information as you can from the previous owners.
Using these techniques will certainly help you to learn more about the history and original appearance of your period home. Don’t forget to record the information you discover – it will be appreciated by future generations.