Have you heard of a Heritage Turkey*? Heritage Turkeys are raised free-range on pasture and forage, they develop much stronger legs, thighs, and breasts than industrially-produced turkeys, which have mostly breast meat. The resulting meat from these Heritage birds is very firm and dark in color, as well as being succulent, rich and flavorful. They also come with a sort of “birth certificate” that tells you the entire history of where the bird is from.
Wouldn’t it be great if your house came with such a certificate?
Understanding the history of your house is not just about particular dates and people, its also about historical trends and patterns. Which ethnic group settled in your area? When did they arrive? Where did they come from? What local resources were available for construction? What were the prevailing architectural trends of the time? Answering these and many other questions will provide important context before you begin compiling the particular history of your ho use.
Other questions to answer before you get started:
Where is my property located?
When was the property developed and the house built?
Who was the original owner and/or occupant of the property?
Who were the successive owners and/or occupants of the property?
Who was the architect/builder?
How has the property changed over time, and how has the house been altered?
Were the original or successive owners and/or occupants noteworthy?
What was the role of the property in the context of the history and development of the neighbourhood and/or the city in which it is located?
Sources for answers
Neighbourhood and community sources
Look at your deed or tax bill
Talk to previous owners, neighbors, and long-time residents
Visit the local library
Talk to your city’s historical society
Consult the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committe
Your local archives
Directories, atlases and maps
Pictures and photographs
*Heritage Turkeys can be purchased locally from the Pasta Shop on 4th Street in Berkeley, as well as other locations throughout the Bay Area.