Monday, May 21, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Parking Options at the Norfolk Registry of Deeds

Before I'll take a trip anywhere I want to know my parking options. That comes after years of living around Boston and having to fight for parking spaces. I don't like to be surprised with limited availability nor do I like to pay exorbitant amounts when there are cheaper options nearby.

It used to be that you could drive to the Norfolk County, Massachusetts Registry of Deeds and park all day in the large parking lot behind the registry for free.  That changed a year or two ago. Now you have to pay.

If you are planning on doing research at the Norfolk Registry (I highly recommend it. It's a wonderful place!) then you'll want to check your options before you go.  There are positives and negatives for all these options so you'll have to determine which is the best for you.

Paid Parking Lot

source: maps.bing.com
click to enlarge
If you want ease of parking and you don't mind paying the cash, then the best option for you is the lot behind the registry building. You access this by taking the road, Old River Place, which is just to the east of the registry building.  The cost is $5 for the entire day. [#2 on the map]


Street Parking Meters

If you would like to stay close to the registry building but pay less, you can choose the option of street parking. Here you can feed the meters at a rate of 25 cents per hour. The meter will take up to four hours worth of coins.  There is ample parking on both High Street and perpendicular Court Street.  High Street is the closest to the registry but also the busier street. You will want to have strong parallel parking skills if you choose this option. You'll have a longer walk if you choose Court Street but you'll likely be able to slide directly into a spot without having to parallel park. Personally, this is my option of choice. [#3 on the map]

Free Parking 

There is a free parking option if you are willing to walk a few blocks. [#4 on the map] A municipal parking lot at the corner or High Street and Eastern Avenue offers two hours of free parking. I've never used the lot so I'm not sure what happens if you go over your allotted time. The best part about parking in this lot (which I pass by every week) is that it is located next a wonderful assortment of cafes, coffee houses and ethnic restaurants which are perfect for grabbing lunch or meeting a friend.

If you are determined to pass by the restaurants in order to get down to business you will enjoy the several blocks of wonderful historic buildings lining the streets before your arrive at the registry. The last added benefit besides saving some money is that you will have a refreshing short walk before diving into more stationary tasks.

The only limitation I can really see to the free parking is that it is limited to two hours. That could be inconvenient if you plan to stay for a whole or half day.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Two Important Reasons to Research Deeds

So you're all excited to research the history of your house! You've seen an 1855 map with your house on it as well as the name of the Jones family who lived there at the time.  Why not jump right in and start researching county histories or other records?

When I give presentations about how to do house history research I always recommend starting with searching the deeds. Yes, it's true that deed research might not be as exciting as exploring census records.  But doing the deed research is important for two reasons:

1) Addresses have changed over the years

You may want to start searching for information based on your street address.  You'll be surprised to discover that is not as easy as it seems. The trouble is that your street address is very likely to have changed over the years, perhaps even several times. Say you live on Plain Street in Millis, Massachusetts. Over a hundred plus years ago the road may have been referred to simply as "the road to Sherborn."

Even if the name of your street hasn't changed the number of your house could have. For instance, if you now live at 1052 Main Street, the address of your house might have 49 Main Street only 30 years.

By searching for the deeds to your house you will find descriptions of your property that will help you pinpoint its exact location through the years. When a street or number change occurred the deed  very likely mentioned "1052 Main Street, formerly 49 Main Street" or "Plain Street, formerly the road to Sherborn" thus helping the chain of title link from the current address to the former address.

2) Not all records can be searched by address

Another reason for searching for deeds is that certain records weren't sorted by address or street location.  Many records, even early 20th century tax records, were sorted alphabetically by the owner's name with no address mentioned, or perhaps only a street with no number.  Census records are also much easier to search when you have the owners names. Residents lists and city directories are also based on alphabetically listings. If you don't have the names of the owners of the house then your search will become much more difficult.

By doing your deed research first for all previous owners, you will be armed with the information you need to get past alphabetization and missing address stumbling blocks.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Houstory Publishing Founders Visit New England

(left to right) Mike Hiestand, Maureen Taylor,
Marian Pierre-Louis and Dan Hiestand


The Founders of Houstory Publishing, Dan & Mike Hiestand, who are based in Seattle, Washington have been visiting New England to share information about their Home History Book archival journal. Today they met with The Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor and The New England House Historian, Marian Pierre-Louis. Maureen and Marian got a close up look at the heirloom quality Home History Book which allows home owners to chronicle their home's history.

They are all in agreement that they would love for home owners to be able to preserve the stories and photographs of their houses from generation to generation.

Thanks for stopping by Mike and Dan!