How to Research Your House

magnolia

Modesto Architecture Research Guide

Uncovering Your Architectural Heritage in Modesto

1. Start a journal with everything you know about your house or building including a detailed description and photographs.

2. Find your historic neighborhood, colony, or tract using the Modesto Art Museum’s Historic Modesto Neighborhoods web page. Besides getting information that will help you date your house, many maps include the township and range, an important piece of information for additional research.

3. Determine your building’s architectural style. Use some of the resources on the Modesto Heritage Links and Resources page and check out the Craftsman Style Guide for Arts and Crafts homes built in the early 20th century.

4. Search through the documentation you already have, especially deeds, to find important clues.

5. Use the Modesto city directories in the main library to determine who lived in or used your house or building over the years.

6. Look up information about your property on either the county GIS site or the Modesto GIS site.

7. Start a house or building genealogy, trace the ownership of your house or building and the land it sits on as far back as possible. The earliest land patents in the Modesto area are mostly from the 1860s and can be found at the Bureau of Land Management. You will need to know your township and range to find the patent that covers your lot. Additional records can be found on microfilm at the Stanislaus County Recorder at 1021 I Street.

8. If you think your house is a Sears, Aladdin, Montgomery Ward, or other kit house, check the Modesto Heritage Links and Resources page for catalogues.

The Smithsonian has published this helpful guide to exploring your house history: House Detective: Finding History in Your Home