9/10/2018

Building History Research


If you're the proud owner of a historic property, or if there's a particular building that speaks to you, you may be interested in finding more about its history. Who lived in your house and what were their stories? Or, what were the previous uses of your commercial or public building? If you're wondering how to go about researching the history of a historic structure, our library has resources that can help you.
  • Researching the History of Your House is a publication from History Colorado that outlines the steps involved in research, not only for houses but for other buildings as well. This publication includes a handy checklist for places to search and helpful documents to find.
  • Documenting the History of Your Home is a 1992 publication from the Colorado State University Extension. The advice in this publication is still very relevant, but check with your local library or historical society because many of the resources mentioned are now available online, making research easier than ever before.
  • Your building's architectural style can tell you a lot about its history, including the time period when it was built and for what purpose. See History Colorado's Field Guide to Colorado's Historic Architecture and Engineering for information on historic building styles, types, and materials. 
  • Who designed and/or built your house? If your research reveals the name of an architect or builder, check to see if they're featured in History Colorado's Architects of Colorado and Builders of Colorado biographical series. 
  • The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection is a great tool that you can use to search for historic news stories about your building or its previous owners.
No matter where in Colorado your building is located, be sure to visit your local library. Many libraries have local history and archival collections. The Denver Public Library's Western History and Geneaology Department, Boulder's Carnegie Library for Local History, and Pikes Peak Library District's Regional History and Geneaology are among the state's best local history collections, but many smaller and rural libraries have excellent local history collections as well.

If your research turns up some fascinating history, or if your building is architecturally significant, consider nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places or as a local landmark (check with your town or municipality for information and eligibility criteria). See this fact sheet from the Colorado State University Extension or visit the Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation's website for more information on the National Register.

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