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  • vickie093

If Only These Walls Could Talk: Exploring Your Home’s History

Updated: Feb 19

As a real estate broker, I often find myself wondering about the stories behind the homes I sell.  Who lived here?  What did they do?  How old is this neighborhood?  Was it built by a developer or a local builder? Have you ever wondered about the stories of your household?  One of my favorite pastimes is genealogy, learning about family histories and figuring out if the stories presented by our elders are true. 

Every home has a story, and many properties have a unique history, a soul woven into their walls and echoing through their halls. In Colorado, where history is rich and diverse, delving into the genealogical roots of a home can unveil fascinating narratives of the past.

A log cabin covered in snow
Log cabin

From rustic log cabins to the elegant lines of a Victorian mansion, Colorado’s architectural landscape is as diverse as its history.  Through historical research, you can even find significant events about your house that you may not have known, such as soil contamination, how many times the street name was changed, or even whether your house was ever a stagecoach stop. 

Are you ready to start your journey to discover the secrets of your home, your next home, or maybe one of Colorado's historical houses?

Timeline and Original Owners: Tracing the Footsteps of Pioneers

Every home has a lineage, a story of the families who lived within its walls and the dreams they pursued.  The journey through history begins with a meticulous examination of timelines and ownership records. In Colorado, where the land whispers tales of exploration and settlement, each property holds a chapter in the state's story. Through historical records, land deeds, and archives, we can uncover the names and deeds of those who shaped the landscape, from intrepid pioneers to visionary entrepreneurs. 

How to:  Start with Google!  You can check to find resources for your local area and if they are free.  The County Assessor’s office may have a history of ownership and information about the property.  Search the deed path, start from now, and work backward.  Utilize local archives, historical societies, and public records to trace the timeline of the property.  Another good source may be your neighbors or local historians. They may be able to give you the local legends about the property. Take what they say with a grain of salt, but it may give you a starting place.

Architectural History: Unveiling the Past Through Design

The architecture of a home serves as a time capsule, reflecting the trends and influences of its era. From Victorian splendor to Mid-Century modernism, we can glean insights into the home's past and the lives of its inhabitants. 

How to:  At the county level, explore blueprints, building permits, and hidden inscriptions to uncover what the trends were at that time.  Also, look in your rafters or the basement for date stamps or information the builder may have left.  Identify key architectural features and elements that provide clues about its style. 

Purpose of the Building: Decoding the Past with Historical Context

To truly understand a home's significance, we must place it within its historical context. Historical maps and local newspapers provide invaluable clues about the property's original purpose and function. Was it a bustling storefront in a burgeoning mining town or a tranquil retreat nestled amidst the Rockies? By piecing together these fragments of history, we can paint a vivid picture of the home's role in Colorado's past.

How to:  Explore old newspapers for articles or advertisements to find information about the development of an area and who lived there. Search your town’s history to learn about historical context, such as when the community installed public water or when the first library was built.  Check with your local historical society and public library for old pictures, maps, or articles. Librarians are an awesome resource!

Historic Designations: Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future

Imagine owning a piece of history – a home listed on the National Register of Historic Places or recognized by state and local authorities for its cultural significance. However, it's essential to understand that historic designation comes with benefits and responsibilities, including restrictions on renovations and potential financial incentives.

How to:  Research any state or local historic designations that the property or district the house is in may have received.

Colorado-Specific Information: Preserving Our Heritage

Colorado takes pride in its rich architectural heritage, boasting 67 Certified Local Governments with preservation ordinances in place. These ordinances are crucial in safeguarding historical properties and ensuring their continued relevance in our modern world. From Denver's historic neighborhoods to the remote corners of the Rockies, these laws help preserve the character and charm that make Colorado's homes truly unique.

In conclusion, researching the history of a homeowner's house with a genealogical perspective offers a window into Colorado's past and a chance to preserve its heritage for the future. By embracing the stories behind these homes and championing their preservation, we can honor the pioneers and visionaries who built the foundations of our great state.


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