COBWEB CORNERS: Chasing your house
By Mel McFarland |
One of the most common questions I get is about finding the history of a house. There are a few ways to do it, but it can get really frustrating. Let's sort out a few things. First, for simplicity, let's eliminate any building newer than 1950. These can be traced through modern county and city records.
Start with the previous owner and work backwards. Check with your real estate agent if it was not too many years ago! When you do that, it is handy to know the legal description of your property, not just your address. This will be somewhere in the papers when you bought the property. If you are tracking down the history of a house you are living in, but do not own, the owner should have it. Try talking to your neighbors if they have been around for a long time. WRITE THINGS DOWN in a notebook as you go along - a notebook you use just for this project.
You may find a short cut. In the past there were documents that passed along from owner to owner as the property was sold. It carried the entire history back to the first owner, or registrant. these are called ABSTRACTS. In the 1960s and 70s, quite often these were getting to be quite space-consuming, and the process was abandoned. Many owners kept theirs, tucked away somewhere. Some real estate agents, and title companies started saving them. If you can find one, it will have everything you need, but like I said, most are lost or destroyed. You can do a lot of your search at the County Assessor's Office.
The public library is the next good stop. The downtown library has a great local history department. It is in the Carnegie portion of the building. There you can find old phone books. Modern books have addresses, but older ones often did not. The library has many ways to track buildings, property and people through local history. One way is to use the genealogy section. There also are city and county directories, where available. These can be used to even track phone numbers. One library gem is called a SANBORN Map. This Sanborn company mapped cities all over the country for insurance purposes. The library has the Sanborn maps for Colorado City, Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, which shows downtown buildings as well as houses. Another library resource is old newspapers on microfilm. These carried local sale ads and the like.
Now, this is not all there is to know about chasing your house, only the start. Hope you catch it!