Use these links and resources to help you with your research into Modesto’s history, heritage architecture, and historic landscapes. Start your project by reading and completing the tasks in the Modesto Art Museum publication, Researching Your Modesto Property. You will also find links to information helpful in the preservation and restoration of your building.
House Identification Resources and Catalogues
The Summer 2009 edition of the Stanislaus Historical Quarterly has an article about house architecture in the Modesto area from the 1870s to the early 20th century.
The Craftsman Style Guide
Aladdin Sales Catalogues 1906 – 1954
California Bungalows 1915
Montgomery Ward 1911
Montgomery Ward 1916
Model and Modern Bungalow Plans – California, c. 1911
Radford’s Artistic Bungalows 1908
Redwood Home Plans by California Architects 1925
Redwood Home Plans by California Architects 1927
Sears Catalog Homes
Stickley Craftsman Homes 1912
The Blue Book of California Bungalows c. 1920
Maps of Stanislaus County and Modesto
Historic Maps of Modesto Neighborhoods, Tracts, and Colonies
1906 Map of Stanislaus County a helpful map for finding out who might have owned your property in the early 20th century, particularly for areas still in the county.
1920 Map of Modesto
1930s Map of Modesto
Stanislaus County GIS Maps
Modesto GIS Maps and Parcel Information
Land Grants, Patents, and Deeds
Western Pacific Railroad Land Grants in Modesto and Surrounding Area, 1871
Online Editions of City and County Print Resources:
Modesto Architecture Guides Five different tour guides to help you explore Modesto’s architectural heritage starting in the 19th century and continuing to the Modernist period.
Modesto Historic Structure Reports Various types of detailed reports on a growing collection of historic Modesto structures
History of Stanislaus County, The first history of Stanislaus County, by L.C. Branch, published by Elliott and Moore, San Francisco, 1881. Helpful popular resource for digging into the lives of mid 19th century county residents. The illustrations of 19th century houses and buildings are excellent.
A Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Merced, Stanislaus, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa, California, by Lewis Publishing Company, 1892. Section on Modesto starts on page 120.
A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California, 1901, has short biographies of many Modesto residents.
History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley by James Miller Guinn (1905) provides interesting information about many late 19th century and early 20th century residents of Modesto and Stanislaus County.
History of Stanislaus County by George Tinkham was completed in 1921. A helpful popular resource for researching the lives of early 20th century residents of the county.
The Story of Stanislaus by John Bramhall, 1914, has interesting information about the county in the early 20th century. The photographs are worth seeing.
Stanislaus County 1902 promotional booklet produced to attract new residents to the county. Wonderful photographs.
Modesto, The Automobile Gateway to Yosemite 1913, published by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. This is a promotional booklet to attract residents to the city. More fun photographs.
Polk Husted Directory for Modesto, Turlock, & Stanislaus County, 1915 an excellent resource for discovering who lived where in 1915
Free Online Journals and Periodicals
These publications often mention building projects in Modesto including houses. Use search term Modesto or the name of an architect. They are also helpful to learn about the architectural details of the era when your building was designed to aid in restoration, conservation, and preservation.
Architectural Record, 1891-2018, in USModernist Library
Architect and Engineer of California, 1905-1940s, Hathi Trust Digital Library
Daily Pacific Builder, 1907-1912, San Francisco Public Library
Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer 1909-1917, Hathi Trust Digital Library
Building & Industrial News, 1911-1914, San Francisco Public Library Site
Building & Engineering News , 1911-1930, Internet Archive
Arts and Architecture, 1912-1943, Hathi Trust Digital Library, AIA San Francisco
Southwest Builder and Contractor, 1917-1922, Hathi Trust Digital Library
Architect and Engineer 1920s-1950s, Internet Archive
Pacific Constructor, 1932-1939, Internet Archive
Free online collections of many architecture journals, especially covering the mid 20th century modern period, are part of the US Modernist Library.
For valuable preservation, conservation, and restoration information use the Building Technology Heritage Library at the Internet Archive. “The Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL) is primarily a collection of American and Canadian, pre-1964 architectural trade catalogs, house plan books, and technical building guides. Trade catalogs are an important primary source to document past design and construction practices. These materials can aid in the preservation, restoration, and conservation of older structures.”
Local, State, and National Preservation Organizations
Modesto Landmark Preservation Program
National Trust for Historic Preservation
California Preservation Foundation
California Main Street Alliance
Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records
The Smithsonian has published this helpful guide to exploring your house history: House Detective: Finding History in Your Home