DES MOINES—Unless you live in a brand new home, you’ve probably wondered what your home looked like when it was first built or what the people who lived there were like. Common questions like these and some pointers on how to find the answers will be the topic of a joint program and workshop hosted by the Des Moines Historical Society and the Des Moines Rehabbers Club.
“Researching Your Home’s History & Abstract Party” will be Saturday, March 8, 2014, from 1-4 PM at the North Side Library, 3516 5th Ave., Des Moines. The event is free and open to the public. Freewill donations will be accepted to offset the cost of materials and refreshments.
The path to finding information about a specific home that has previously been undocumented is long and sometimes frustrating. Thankfully, in today’s world, much of the research can be done via the Internet from home. This workshop will provide the best online resources for finding general information about your home, as well as some tips and guidance for those who wish to go more in-depth with their research.
“It usually starts as a point of curiosity that quickly turns into a treasure hunt, each piece of information added to the puzzle until the image becomes clear,” said Sarah Oltrogge, president, Des Moines Historical Society. “It takes some persistence, but if you’re lucky, you can find out all sorts of interesting facts about the people who walked your home’s hallways before you ever did.”
“People often feel a greater sense of ownership from working on their own house,” said Kelli Lydon, vice president, Des Moines Rehabbers Club. “When we repair windows, scrape old wallpaper, and uncover layers of a house’s physical past we find ourselves wanting to know more about the people whose lives shaped the house we care so much about. The Rehabbers Club likes to support not only the physical upkeep of old houses, but also the emotional ties we feel toward our homes. I think it inspires better stewardship.”
The workshop will also touch briefly on the process to have a home listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), as well as the Historic Tax Credit incentives that are available for homes either already on, or eligible for listing to, the NRHP.
Participants will be encouraged to bring their home’s abstract for an “Abstract Party.” The workshop will decipher the legal language of abstracts, how they are used in researching a home, and the best way to store them for safekeeping. Participants will be encouraged to share information they find in their abstracts as they uncover valuable details.