The History of Your House

[June 2020] For the time being the service is no longer offered. If you’d like tips for doing research yourself, please write.

The aim of a house history is to provide a rich account of the lives and stories that took place in and around your house, deepening the appreciation of how history is alive all around us–in our own homes and on the streets of our neighborhoods.


I will research your house, a process that results in a set of digital documents–usually a sixteen-to-thirty-page illustrated narrative, with an appendix of ten or twenty pages of additional maps, documents, and other materials. I have done this for numerous residents in the area. Here is an example house history (without appendix). Right: A house history binder (optional).

The following historical information about your house is gathered together:

  • Historical maps, including all Sanborn Insurance maps
  • Assessor’s Office record of ownership, supplemented by newspaper records of property transfers
  • Census data, genealogy, occupations, and news articles about the residents
  • Directory listings through the decades
  • Water Tap documents from SF Water Dept.
  • Background on the neighborhood and street name
  • Historical context of residents, their occupations, and neighborhood development
  • Consideration of historical features of the house
  • Other options also include retrieving an historical photo of the house from SF History Center (if available), building plans (if available) from DBI, and retrieving death certificates for any death in the house.

The documents produced may be used to provide the Planning Dept with historical information about a house before renovations are made, although this is not the main focus of the house histories I do.

For an additional fee, a binder can be produced, made with acid-free sleeves, PVC-free binder, heavy-weight paper, and good quality printing. The title goes on the spine, and the front cover gets a specially designed image. Below are some sample pages from a house history binder.


Above: Front cover. Below: First page.



Inside pages (above and below).


Below: Complete table of owners and residents.HouseHistory-binder4