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Public History: Doing a House History: Step 3: Changes Since Construction?

This guide provides detailed instructions for the house history assignment.

Helpful House History Resources Online

Indiana Department of Natural Resources:  National & State Registers - Application Process
The nomination form to be used in this assignment is the first form in the Application process or can be downloaded at this link.

National Register Bulletin:  Researching a Historic Property

Indiana Landmarks

Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD)
Search for information on properties registered in state and national registers of historic places.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Preservation Directory

What Changes Have Been Made to the House Since Its Construction?

As you know from living in a house, houses are frequently modified by their owners. Remodeling, additions, construction of out buildings, etc. can change the style and function of living spaces drastically. Ideally, we would trace these changes through historical building permits.  However, in Elkhart County, building permits are not retained permanently.

We will instead look at Sanborn Maps to seek evidence of dramatic changes to the house you are researching. The Indiana Room at Goshen Public Library has large black and white hard copies (also on microfilm) of Goshen Sanborn maps for the years 1886, 1892, 1896, 1901, 1905, 1910, 1917, and 1926.  Color images of 1886, 1892, 1896 are readily viewable online through the Library of Congress.  All maps (except 1926) are also available through the Indiana Spacial Data Portal. 

Tips for using the Indiana Spacial Data Portal Sanborn Maps:

  • The Single File Interface is easiest to use. Choose the "Goshen Quad" from the dropdown Select a Quadrangle section.
  • Then click on the Goshen quad area of the map and scroll to the bottom of the page.
  • Open up the Public domain section and then the PDF section. The first image file (0001) for each map year is an index page. Download this page first to determine what page your house appears on. See screenshot below for more information.
  • Download the metadata file to access the keys to the maps (The two files you are looking for are the bw_index_key and the color_index_key. The colors of the buildings and the numbers on the buildings all have meanings!