A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

History Dead End

A few weeks ago I requested information from the Village about the purchase/sale/construction of our bungalow. Shortly thereafter I received a letter indicating that they did have that information and that I could visit the Building Department at any time.

I was imagining finding copies of the original floor plan, the builder’s name, etc. But no. In reality all they had were permits for a new garage in 1997 and the electrical upgrade in 1998. They also had a copy of a notice they sent the PO to scrape and paint windows and fix the dormer exterior, also in 1998. That must have been when he installed aluminum storm windows (thereby covering up the peeling paint), replaced the dormer windows and siding, and had all that sheetrock hoisted into the attic.


I’ve also checked the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, and talked with both the Morton Grove Library and the Historical Society. Zippo.

Someday I may go down to the Cook County Assessor’s office to see what I can find, otherwise I think I may have hit a dead end. Dang.


  1. Nicole on July 3, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Not that this will help, but here’s a few more suggestions:
    — Maps and Plats dept. Sometimes this office has a treasure trove of info.

    — Old city directories. Find one from the early years of your home. That would give you some owner names to trace.

  2. Steffi on July 3, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Ditto about the old city directories. I don’t know if you have a similar place where you’re at, but in Atlanta we have the Atlanta History Center. We’ve gone there and looked throuhg the old city directories. Initially we had trouble pinning down the info until we realized they had changed the street numbers, so we had to jump a few years ahead, then backtrack based on the name. That way we were able to find when the house was first listed and who lived there. The History Center was otherwise useful as well as we were able to find the original neighborhood plan and layout and some other interesting bits and pieces. (Which was interesting to us because the history of our neighborhood is not documented like so many others are by now.) Good luck!

  3. Jennifer on July 3, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Too bad! I haven’t started digging for info about our house yet… waiting for a nice rainy day!

  4. Candace on July 3, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    What about property title records? In Massachusetts the title is filed at the county level and each time the property changes hands, a new title is filed. We traced the history of our old house this way. Good luck!

  5. B. Williams on July 8, 2008 at 12:23 am

    We’d hit a dead end, and as it were our house numbers changed too. I didn’t know this until I found a stack of magazines in the ceiling from the year the house was built. It had the original address and the owners name right on the label.

  6. denise on July 8, 2008 at 10:15 am

    The part about house numbers changing is intriguing, and according to some county sources, our street name may have been different as well. I’ll definitely keep trying—thanks for all the great suggestions!

  7. jayne on July 11, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    I agree with Candace–Missouri’s the same way. The deed to the property is filed at the appropriately named Recorder of Deeds Office in each county. My neighbor traced his house back to the original 1820 land grant this way, and I’m planning to start researching my own house this winter.

  8. Renate on August 1, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Chello Choney,
    When I worked for Safeco Title Insurance Company (remember? first job after college, $12,000/year?) I had to check title searches to make sure that the property was insurable. There was often TONS of info, and I often got caught up reading the searches just because they were interesting (and wasting time in the process!!)

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