July 12, 2010

Researching Your Old Chicago House -- Part 1

If you're fortunate enough to live in an older Uptown residence--house, two-flat, former resident hotel, etc.--there are resources available to help you learn more about your home's history. We'll be featuring a few of these over the course of the next week.

The first is a document provided by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, 1998 called Your House Has a History. It provides several steps for researching your home's history, including:

1. Checking the Chicago Historic Resources Survey
2. Finding a Copy of the Building Permit When Your House Was Built
3. Researching the construction, architect, etc.
4. How to find information on previous owners
5. How to find original plans, drawings, photos
6. Researching your neighborhood history

Of particular interest is the map showing the years for various annexations of land to the City. Chicago building records only exist for structures built after the Great Fire of 1871. Building records also don't exist for houses built prior to their neighborhood's annexation by the City of Chicago. (According the map, the area including Uptown was annexed in 1890. Before that, neighborhoods like "Argyle Park" were separate communities.) In rare cases, these building records may be found at local historical societies


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