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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    1

    Question How do you determine age of house?

    I live in Grayslake, Illinois and have a house the town assessor says was built in 1928. I was told the house's style is that of a California bungalow. I've been doing a lot of work on it and found a newspaper from 1923 under the threshold of the front door. Now I'm thinking the house was built before 1928 and looking for a way to prove that. I called our historical society but all they could tell me is that the plot was bought in 1907, which doesn't prove the house was built in 1907. So all I know is that the land was purchased by the first owner in 1907. To give you a little background, my block and neighborhood has houses dating back to the 1800's. For example, the house about 5 doors down was built in 1907 and one a few down from that in 1923. A few things about my house: (1) it's stucco; (2) it has a brick foundation as well as brick footings; (3) it's 1.5 stories; (4) it has a gable roof with a dormer in the center. I'm not sure if any of that helps. Does anyone have any experience in finding the age of a house? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia area
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: How do you determine age of house?

    If you do a deed history of your property, you may well be able to determine the age of the house. It may take some legwork. Look for the deed which that says "house and lot of land" and then a deed prior to it which should indicate only a "lot of land". These deeds are probably handwritten, if the books even exist still. If you need more info, email me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: How do you determine age of house?

    Quote Originally Posted by HistoricSigns View Post
    If you do a deed history of your property, you may well be able to determine the age of the house. It may take some legwork. Look for the deed which that says "house and lot of land" and then a deed prior to it which should indicate only a "lot of land". These deeds are probably handwritten, if the books even exist still. If you need more info, email me.
    Hi,

    Saw your post about establishing one's home's age.

    I live in the Philly area as well, and my new home is on the property that was formerly, until about 1900, the Morris family estate, Green Hill Farm.

    I have done a deed search at the Dept. of Records. My house is supposedly from 1886 and even has a name. Neighbors say it is the first house in the community, and predates the community, in fact. I can find no written history discussing the house, nor any maps that show an outline or mark where the house is from many years ago when so many maps did just that with the family name by those marks.

    The earliest deed the records department could find (and even then it didn't use the address) was from 1892, as part of the will of a woman who died in 1891. The history is pretty murky, and I assume someone out there has a book or did some research into the community and knew the home's name, and the year it was said to have been built. Very frustrating for me, as you can imagine.

    I wonder if a title search would be better? My realtor said that most title searches don't go that far back looking for liens, etc. in buying a home, but that they could have the search done all the way back as far as it could go if I desired.

    Any leads you might have or suggestions are much appreciated. I am going to perhaps enlist a researcher at the Historical Society of PA to help with this.

    Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: How do you determine age of house?

    Property tax records are perfect for determining in exactly which year the value of a lot jumps, usually indicating the presence of the "improvement" (structure). The valuation will go from $600 to $3500, or such, which can't be explained by inflation.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia area
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: How do you determine age of house?

    How exciting this is!

    Ordinarily tax records would be a good way to go, but this is Philadelphia we are talking about. If it were me, I'd want to see copies or make my own copies of the records. I would investigate the tax records, yes.

    Did you get a copy of the 1892 deed? If it's from the woman who died in 1891 then, there should be a deed from before the 1892 deed. The 1892 deed will have a deed number of the prior deed as a reference written in the early paragraphs. Use a deed index book to trace back the deed's block and lot. If that is a dead end, then search the seller's name in the index.

    I've gotten lucky and found hand drawn maps of the property and surrounding properties in some deed books.

    Another tactic: Pick another property near you that may have been a parcel like yours and research it's history and you may be cross reference the ownership.

    Another resource is the Philadelphia Small Streets MeetUp Group, here is their site:
    http://www.meetup.com/The-Philadelph...-Streets-PSSS/

    Congrats on your new old house! If you want to email me, contact me at sales@handpaintedwoodsigns.com . Thanks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: How do you determine age of house?

    Dendrochronology is the accurate science of taking timber core samples of the number of annual growth rings; originally used to measure the age of live trees, it is now widely used to accurately determine the age of historic homes.

    Several core samples are taken from the larger wood timbers in different parts of the house using a special hollow drill bit by a registered expert & the age of the house is eventually determined----perhaps the historical society you contacted mentioned the process, if not, they should have, along with additional info as to contacting an expert & the cost of the procedure; sometimes these experts are attached to local colleges & universities in your area.

    Also Google "Scientists attempt to determine age of Hickham house", or Google "dendrochronology" for more sites; consult the Yellow Pages of the larger cities (like Chicago) under "dendrochronologists"; consult local historical societies in other towns to see if THEY have any info.
    Last edited by call_me_al; 07-11-2012 at 10:35 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: How do you determine age of house?

    Another thought: try to obtain as many Sanford Fire Insurance maps as possible they will show concretely the outline of the structure, and how many stories. This can be very helpful in identifying additions and modifications. They updated the maps about every 5 years in my town; I can see when my house was actually moved back 20 feet!
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

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