It is a well-known fact that every old house has a history, and Long Island is no exception. Although its secrets may be twisted, sordid, or sweet, everyone is the same as a snowflake—if only walls could talk.
You are not alone in being curious about your house’s history. Every house has a history (some more interesting than others, though), whether it is a century-old farmhouse or a new contemporary build. The internet has fortunately made it possible to investigate the history of a house in a multitude of ways.
1. Identify the Era the Structure Is From
Start by looking around your home. Examine the structure and architectural style—the shape and orientation of the home can frequently offer clues. Early homes—those built during the Colonial era and the Early Republic when the nation was first independent—were typically oriented so they would receive the most sunlight from the south.
Moreover, while looking at your home will reveal a lot, you may even uncover a bricked up doorway, covered up original tyles, or even items from the prohibition era, like a couple doing renovations did when they found more than 66 bottles of Prohibition-era whiskey hidden in the walls of their New York home.
2. Dig for Treasure
Speaking of hidden Prohibition whiskey, why not continue digging for more historical items? It is not uncommon to unearth items in old gardens, such as pottery shards, glass, and little bottles. Sometimes you can even come across old tools or kitchen objects. These can give us clues to the lifestyle of those who lived there before.
3. Get a Bit Morbid
If you are looking for a spookier story this fall, search your home on DiedInHouse.com to find out if anyone has died in your home. Real-estate agents are required to disclose this information in some cases, but many states do not. If you do not ask, you might not know.
In exchange for $12, the site will generate a report that details if and when your home has suffered a death.
4. Dive Into the Records
In 1978, New York State sponsored a survey of potentially historic properties. To find out if your property was surveyed, stop by your local historical society and read some records.
The next step is to contact the town assessor who can provide a list of previous owners. The building department will be able to trace the history of what has been done on the house—but only up to 1930 when building permits became mandatory. If you are really obsessed, you can go even further back in time by visiting your county clerk’s office. Take a look at the old deed books in the records room.
5. Use The Internet
Many fantastic online resources can help you trace the history of your home and uncover the stories behind it. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Trace My House — Though this site primarily focuses on the U.K., there are a few pages and resources devoted to the United States.
- The National Archives and Records Administration — The agency maintains all historical genealogical and land records. Among the ten million land records archived with the office is a wealth of information hidden in land patents, land case entries, farm ownership, rehabilitation records, and more.
- Family Search — Though this site is specifically for genealogy, you can run a reverse trace with the palace of residence and use the advanced filters to find the movements of your ancestors.
- Old House Web — Even in the age of social networks, forums still hold a lot of power. Old House Web is a meeting place for enthusiasts of old homes, but its community forum covers a broad range of topics. You can also snoop through knick-knacks remodelers pick up from dilapidated houses for clues.
Ready to Move?
Long Island is full of historical homes just waiting for avid history-buffs to move in. Fortunately, Lynx Mortgage Bank LLC makes it easy to find a mortgage that fits your budget. Visit our website to learn more about our trusted mortgage services, or contact us to begin the mortgage process.