Welcome to Old House History!

Learn how to discover the genealogy or architectural ancestry of your Old House by using historic City Directories to find who lived in your house. Discover how rare Fire Insurance maps can track how your house developed over the years. Read articles about Historic Houses and Historic House Museums, and learn tips on how to present your Old House on a Heritage House Tour.

Articles in Old House History

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Florence – the view from the dome of the Cathedral.

The Campanile at left, is the bell tower for the Cathedral,

 and copied as a major design element of the Italianate style. New! The Italianate Style: Royalty and the Grand Tour – A stylish progress
The Victorian enthusiasm for the Italianate style of architecture - fashionable from the 1840's to the 1890's - had its origins in Royal approval; the cult of romantic poetry; and the siren-song of warm climates with winter sun and palm trees.
The Carson Mansion, Eureka California. The grandest Queen Anne mansion on the west coast of the United States. An overall fanciful design, towers, inset balconies, elaborate turned woodwork and fancy-cut shingles all are hallmarks of the Queen Anne style.


Built in 1883 by William Carson, a lumber baron, for his own home.  The builders, Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom of San Francisco, made extensive use of Carson’s own lumber to showcase the residence. The Carson Mansion is now a private club, and not open to the public. Queen Anne Style: Architecture and Art – In England and North America
The Queen Anne style of houses gave our cities and towns an exuberant style of architecture. Explore how the style originated, and enjoy the towers, shingles and turned woodwork that make this style distinctive.
Today, this splendid Chicago Landmark, designated Heritage on October 2, 1991, sits on a downtown street corner and now serves as high-end offices. Its golden stone façade adds a gracious counterpoint to the modern buildings that now surround it. Richardson Romanesque:
House Style of the Rich

Richardson Romanesque was the house style for the rich. You had to have money – and lots of it - to build a mansion in masonry, which was the construction material that best suited the new style of the 1880’s and 1890’s.
Wentworth Villa - built 1863 in Victoria, B.C. Essentially intact. A wooden railing around the front porch roof was lost c1905, and the porch posts were replaced with turned posts c1890. This is a typical wood Gothic-Revival home in North America. 19th century Gothic Revival Homes and Furnishings in North America
The Gothic Revival style of the mid to late 19th century was a looking back at the grandeur of the past; it was also a way to claim the history and the recognition of the greatness that the cathedrals had originally inspired.
thumb A Planned Company Town: Powell River, British Columbia
Powell River, British Columbia, is a company town for the Canadian pulp and paper industry. It was built after 1910 and has a great store of bungalows built as housing for the workers at the Mill.
gamblethumb Port Gamble: A Historic sea-side town in the Pacific Northwest
On the shore of Puget Sound lies a small unincorprated town from the 19th century, that seems to be slumbering on into the 21st century.  Discovering it while driving – for a minor Washington State highway actually runs through the town – is a surprise of the pleasantest kind. A small main street, a few rows of […]
thumb.jpg Historic House Museums of Hawaii
The history of Hawaii is fascinating for visitors who can pry themselves away from the beaches and the warm waters of Hawaii. The historic house museums of Hawaii offer a pleasant distraction during a tropical vacation.
thumb1.jpg Historic House Museums of Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is an altogether different City from Charleston, its nearby neighbour. The layout of the city, one of the first planned communities in North America, has 24 town squares, and is unique in North America.
thumb.jpg Historic House Museums of Charleston, South Carolina
Sometimes the best way to learn about historic houses is to visit them. Some areas of the country have few historic houses open to the public, while others seem to be blessed with them.
genealogy-square.jpg The Genealogy of your House –Who lived here?
People research their family genealogy all the time. But have you tried researching your old house's genealogy? Here are some tips for using City Directories to get the results.
untitled-1.jpg Is your Old House on a House Tour? How to keep sane (and welcoming!)
Visiting Historic Houses is a great way to learn about the history of your town. Opening your own Old House for a Tour is a way of sharing your history with others. How to have a successful house tour!
pr-brightspark2.jpg Creating a Chronology –Keeping track of your House’s History
Organizing your Old House's history by creating a Chronology is an easy, readable way of organizing your research. Updates and additions are a snap, and the useful results can be shared with others.
fireinsurance-oh-history.jpg Searching for your House’s History:Using Historic Fire Insurance Maps
Amazing Sanborn Fire Insurance maps dating between 1867 to 1969 can reveal the construction history of your Old House and your neighbourhood. How to find and use this rare resource.