Researching Historic Houston Homes

Filed in Heights Historic Districts by on October 12, 2015

Researching Historic Houston Homes

If you live in an old home; especially in the Heights or one of Houston’s historic districts (See Maps of Houston Historic Districts), you undoubtedly have an interest in the history of your house. Who wouldn’t love to know the details of their old home: when it was built; the original owner, etc.

Historic Downtown Houston

Earliest Photo of Downtown Houston

Harris County tax rolls are not a good place to look. Most of the older homes typically show 1920 or 1930 for year built. Whenever they started these records, they just lumped all the existing homes into these two date categories.

For instance, HCAD shows my house to be built in 1920, but I have the original deed from 1909, showing it was sold by the Wilson Land Company for $3500 dollars. So, don’t rely on HCAD.

The Historic Preservation Fair on May 18, 2013 is where I picked up some info on this topic. The fair covered a lot of different topics, such as

  • Historic Site Tax Exemptions
  • Appropriate Additions in a Historic District
  • Appropriate New Construction in Historic District
  • Energy Efficiency for Historic Buildings
  • Historic District Web Manual
  • and lastly, Researching Historic Houston Homes.

Annie Golden, of Harris County Archives, and Caroline Castillo, Houston Public Library talked about researching these old properties.

I have attached a couple of pdf’s from the class:

The first pdf: How to_Research_Historic_Property . This details resources available at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (part of the Houston Library at 500 McKinney). These include

Old City Directories. Some of these from 1866-1923 are online My house has only had 3 owners. It’s pretty cool seeing a directory with the names of the original owners.

  • Local newspapers from all over the state going back to the 1800’s
  • Genealogical records. Some of these are at the Clayton Library
  • Maps. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps show the footprints of many original downtown structures.
  • Architectural Drawings
  • Archival Collections
  • Much more. See pdf for details

2nd pdf from Harris County Archives: Research_Historic_Homes_Harris_County.

This lists the Assessor Abstracts, Charles Brace Papers, Heritage Society Map Collection and title abstracts. These people are happy to help you with research

Lots of cool Maps: Lots of cool old maps

These papers and sites will give you some help in researching historic Houston homes.

As always, contact me if I can help, or subscribe to my posts in sign-up box in right column.

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