Researching Building History|Unit Study

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Do you live in an older home or is there a building in your town that you find intriguing? Hunting down the history of buildings is a great way to learn about the history of your town with lots of fascinating rabbit trails to go down.

To start with, you will need to make a list of questions you would like to know about the building. As you investigate, you will think of more, but try to start off with at least 3-5.  You might want to know:

  1. When was the building was constructed?
  2. Who built the building?
  3. What is the style of architecture?
  4. Has it been remodeled or added on to?
  5. Who was the original owner and how many owners has it had?
  6. Are there any interesting events that happened there?
  7. What was around the building when it was built and how has that changed through the years?
  8. Has the building had different functions through the years?
  9. What was the original cost of the building and how much is it worth now?

There are a variety of resources to help you answer these questions.

  1. Plan a field trip to your local county courthouse and or city municipal building. It’s a great way to familiarize your kids with how local government works. At the courthouse, you will be able to look at the building’s abstract and get property tax records. These will tell you who has owned the building and when it was sold. They often have information on building size and pictures that can help you see how it has changed over the years. Your city municipal building will have information about building permits that will show the changes the building has been through. The people there are very willing to help, but please call first! There are times of the year when they are slow and times when they are drowning in work. You will get a lot more info if you visit during a slow period.
  2. Talk to neighbors and older residents about the building.
  3. Look in newspaper archives for articles about the people who have owned the building. Historical homes and older business buildings will often have articles about them as well. This is a good source for pictures and interesting information.
  4. Look for plat maps and county historical books at your local library.
  5. Try entering the address and or the name of the building online. You may find that someone else has already done some research on it!
  6. Check out City Directories and Census records!
  7.  Your local historical society might also have information.

Have fun and let me know what you find out!

 

 

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