What style is my house?
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ChrisJ



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:50 am    Post subject: What style is my house? Reply with quote

Some have told me its considered colonial but I would like to see what others think. The green house in the middle is mine.

Is Colonial the name for this style and when was it popular? I've seen many many houses that look a lot like mine with small differences.

The carport and front porch are obviously not original nor is the bay window. Sadly right after we bought the house last year I had to tear the chimney down as it was way too small to be lined when I installed the new boiler. I plan on getting a fake brick aluminum cover for the B-vent when I have the cash.

I've been looking all over to try and figure out how old the house is but have kind of given up. The town tells me 1901 is the oldest record they have on the house but it may be older. Foundation is stone as is the foundation under two additions on the house. All nails are type B cutnails. Most windows do not have any sash weights or a place for them, top sashes do not move. Sashes on most window are made quite sloppy and even have 1/4" shims nailed to the sides of the sashes to make them fit.

Thank you for your time.


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uabchris



Joined: 12 Jul 2012
Posts: 17
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the same issue and have a similiar house to yours .F olk Victorian? The best way to tell the year is go to your local library and trace the directories. We did and went back to 1891. Most all listings say 1901.
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ChrisJ



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:04 pm    Post subject: directories Reply with quote

Might be a dumb question but, trace what directories?
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uabchris



Joined: 12 Jul 2012
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your library should have the old directories (like todays yellow pages) that tell you who lived at your address, if the street # ever changed, who else boarded there, etc. It's pretty cool mystery work! Just go back year by year and see how far you get. It's worth a trip to your local library to ask, and some may even be digitized (on Google, etc) Good luck!
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mattswabb



Joined: 01 Nov 2010
Posts: 145
Location: Elyria, Ohio

PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also google Sanborn fire insurance maps. We found out a lot about our house there. The maps if available for your area will show what was on your property and you can search thru the years to figure out when your house was built.

We were able narrow ours to around 1910 then we searched the local newspaper online archives to find more information. We found when the permit was pulled and therefore we were able to narrow it down to 1910. The fire maps were the key to figuring this out.

We always thought I was earlier but the maps showed another house on our lot.

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TimB



Joined: 03 Sep 2009
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are two types of evidence you need to explore in order to determine when your house was built: documentary evidence (i.e. deeds, tax records, maps, photographs etc.) and physical evidence (i.e. the “stuff” your house is made of). It sounds like you have begun to do both. While you may not be able to find the exact dates of construction for your house, you can likely narrow it down to a reasonably small range. For starters, find the date your town was first settled (by Europeans) and the date you bought the house. You can then say that your house was built between 1700 and 2012 (or whatever the correct dates are). Then narrow this range down as much as you can. Here’s how:
1) documentary evidence
Start with deeds. Go to your registry of deeds, locate your own deed and work backwards. Most deeds give you reference information for the previous deed relating to the property. The clerk should be able to help you along. In many cases you can get a pretty good idea of when your house was built with this information alone. Local tax information can be helpful too… for example, I know the year my house was built because the first owner paid taxes on a piece of land one year and a piece of land with a house the next. Maps can be great, but it is sometimes difficult to tell whether the structure shown on a map was later torn down and replaced by your house. Maps are usually published very sporadically as well, though the Sanborn Insurance maps can be an excellent resource in more urbanized areas from the late nineteenth century through the twentieth.

2) Physical evidence
Look carefully at your house, particularly the parts that are unlikely to be replaced. How about the framing? Start in the cellar and the attic, areas where the framing is most likely to be exposed and tell us what you see. You mentioned type B cut nails, which is helpful. We can probably narrow things down between say 1810 and 1910 (see this link: http://www.uvm.edu/histpres/203/nails.html.) What about interior woodwork, doors, and windows? All of these things can be very diagnostic in terms of age. Post some photos of what you find. Bear in mind the possibility that some of these elements may have been replaced as fashions changed and previous owners had a little extra money to spruce up the interiors. Any time you do some work on the house that involves opening things up, take photos and record what you find! Some of the best evidence might be hidden away behind siding and plaster. I know about when my parent’s barn was built because whoever sided it used newspapers as underlayerment. If you ever remove original layers of wallpaper, make sure you save complete samples.
Finally, a word about architectural styles:
I find it helpful to keep in mind that widely-used names for most architectural styles were not in use during the time when these styles were popular. For the most part, they are categories that modern folks use to make sense of the architectural diversity of the past. Some have fuzzy definitions, some of the definitions overlap, some are pretty useful, others are not. I enjoy looking at real estate booklets and have seen the term “colonial” applied to just about every kind of house imaginable. A true colonial house is one that was built prior to American independence in 1776, but this is a category based on construction date, not on style. There was enough diversity in American houses prior to 1776 that it is difficult to say just what a “colonial” house should look like. Colonial revival houses of the turn of the last century harkened back to Georgian architecture of the 18th century, and are usually symmetrical with classical detailing. I don’t think we can call your house colonial in any meaningful way.
Post some more information and we’ll help you narrow things down. Where are you located? Location matters too. Good luck and have fun!

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SashGuy



Joined: 10 Sep 2010
Posts: 147
Location: Houston

PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, if you can get your hands on a USGS Relief Map, they show existing structures at the time that the map was printed. Below is an example of the Houston 1915 map. showing the Woodland Heights area.


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ChrisJ



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:40 am    Post subject: Sanborn maps Reply with quote

Thank you for the replies.

I got my hands on the Sanborn fire insurance maps for my area. Oldest map is from 1892 and the house is there. In fact almost all of the houses are there which was surprising.

One thing I question is in 1914 they show the addition on the back of the house as only being one story. While this is believable as I knew it was a later addition what I find hard to believe is they show it being one story in the 1924, 1941 and 1961 maps as well. The second story of this addition has plaster walls and seems much older than from the 1960s to me. Makes me wonder if for some reason the later maps were never updated even though the second story had been added. Here is a picture, though a poor one of the section the Sanborn maps claims didn't exist until after 1961. https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/188865_10150164677221253_419220_n.jpg




TimB when looking at how lumber was cut and the window styles I came up with sometime around 1870. A circular saw was used to cut the floor joists going by the cut marks in them.

I don't remember when it was settled but the first school was built in 1811.

Being the 1892 Sanborn map gave me the original address I was going to head to the library tonight and try to do some research if possible. It seems the house number changed sometime between 1892 and 1897 to what it is now.

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SashGuy



Joined: 10 Sep 2010
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Location: Houston

PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re the addition, it was not uncommon to raise the homes and build in under them. One home that I take care of, which has a second story built in 1862 has a permit on file dated 1905 to add the first floor. It started out as a Craftsman Bungalow and ended up as a Queen Anne.


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ChrisJ



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:27 am    Post subject: Raising Reply with quote

Hi Sashguy,

Thats a beautiful house there! I would have never guessed it was raised up like that.

In regards to my addition, the first floor is also old with plaster walls. The original section of the house was always 2 floors also so it would've been more difficult to raise that small section up and rebuild the roof than to just throw the second floor on and a roof over it.

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ChrisJ



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:39 am    Post subject: Directory Reply with quote

I was able to find an 1887 directory for the county and there were a lot of people in our town by then.

However, no one had a number address! I noticed a near by city had numbers by each persons name, but not in our town. The 1892 Sanborn map shows house numbers so I'm not sure if those were assigned after 1887 or if most people simply did not use them?

Not sure where to go now, perhaps the USGS relief maps may be my only hope if I can get them?

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TimB



Joined: 03 Sep 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you are on the right track. I know that in my city, Bath, Maine, lumber sawed with a circular saws was common by the 1860s, but Bath was a real center of milling and shipbuilding and on something of the cutting edge there (no pun intended).

As for the date your area was settled, sounds like you already have construction dates for your house narrowed down enough so that bit of information is no longer relevant. Just keep narrowing it on down. Don't forget the deeds! They are usually the single most important resource when it comes to dating your house. They usually tell you other interesting things about your house to boot: who lived there, their occupations, etc.

P.S. It is entirely possible that a Sanborn map got the height of your ell wrong, particularly if it was one story in an earlier map and changed to two. It's hard to make maps showing all of the buildings in all of the built up areas in the country and get every detail right!

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ChrisJ



Joined: 17 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:02 pm    Post subject: 1874 Reply with quote

Just got my hands on a high resolution map from 1874 and the house is there.

Whats interesting is the 1874 map, though crude may have proven something I had suspected for a while now.

I have drawn a diagram showing what I suspect the houses shape was throughout the years going from maps as well as observations I've made about the house on my own. I included the roof line which may seem confusing but I feel it gives a better idea of what the house looks like.

I had known many additions were done to the house as I have many crawl spaces and a basement as well as differences in framing. What I am not sure of is if the 1874 shape is the original as the little room on the back is over a crawl space and not the basement.



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