Have You Ever Wondered Who Built Your House?

Heres some end of the week fun to help us roll into a long weekend. Have you ever wondered who built your house or how old it is? The map below, based on building permits, will help you find out. Once you are at the larger map, you can zoom in and click on the color blocks for details.

(Click for larger, navigable version)

And here’s one final thought for readers to think about. Should I include blocks south of Park Road (between Sherman and Georgia Avenue) on this map, and if so, how far south should I go?

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27 Comments on “Have You Ever Wondered Who Built Your House?”

  1. jcm Says:

    This is really interesting. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

  2. Kim Roberts Says:

    What an amazing map! Thank you for providing such detail. You can really see the neighborhood get built up, year by year.

  3. LibrariNerd Says:

    Who knew you were such a techie! Nicely done.

  4. Angry Parakeet Says:

    Thanks for the Friday Fun, Kent! Your book included the real estate ad for my house; now I know the architect as well.

  5. ~~~mh Says:

    Yes, I have wondered that very question.
    Colorful & enlightening data! Well done!!


  6. Very interesting. Kent, I wonder if you’d post a primer sometimes on how to dig up info on the builder and the residents of your house. We’re just out of Park View between Shepherd and Taylor and I’d love to do some of this research. I know a lot of it is in the Washingtoniana section at MLK, but I don’t know much more than that and haven’t really made an attempt to look yet.

    Any pointers?


  7. Kent —

    This is great. Haven’t had time to get to the library to look up my own house yet — just a couple blocks north on 7th from Rock Creek Church. You don’t happen to have data for houses north of where Warder becomes 7th, do you?

  8. Kent Says:

    I haven’t pulled any information north of Rock Creek Church Road, but do have some west of Georgia. The key to starting research on your house is knowing your lot and square which is constant (address might be able to be used in some searches, but don’t rely on it).

    If you go to the Washingtoniana Collection at the MLK Library, there is a database where you can search by lot and square to find the information for your house. Once you have the permit number and date of the permit, you can then go to the microfilm (if you want to) and look at the copy of the original permit which often has additional information. It isn’t difficult to do, you just need the time.

  9. jcm Says:

    Kent, I tweaked your data a bit and created a page using the Google Earth plugin. It has a timeline control, so you can see the neighborhood being built. If you’d prefer I take it down or you want the code to host it yourself, please let me know.

    Thanks again for collecting all of the data.

  10. Brooke Says:

    so cool!! yes, if you have the time and energy, please include between sherman and georgia…perhaps straight across from where you stopped now at gresham pl?

  11. Sam Huston Says:

    Kent, Thanks for the great map. Please include the 600 Block of Morton Street if possible, don’t leave us out….

    • Kent Says:

      Sure. I’ll add Morton and the blocks south as I have time. I recall the houses on the 600 b/o Morton are largely late 19th century.


  12. Kent, great work. And thanks for the explanation on how to do this for one’s own house. I’m another reader just north of RCCR, in the 400 block of Quincy and would love to know more about the history of our house.

  13. Mark C Says:

    Excellent mapping of that information! Thanks very much for that.

  14. Justin Says:

    529 Gresham Place NW is colored blue, but the map says the permit was only for 531 Gresham on. The house records say it was built in 1911, not 1913.

    • Kent Says:

      I’ll double check the permit list I have. Thank you for alerting me.

    • Kent Says:

      OK, I’ve double checked the permit list. You are correct for 529 Gresham. Permit #4056 was for 529-613 Gresham Place and was issued on February 27, 1913. I’ve updated the map and the change will eventually show. I’m not familiar with the house records you are referring to, but in this case the 1913 on the permit matches the date in the DC Real Property Tax database and the real estate ads in the 1913 Washington Times.

  15. Oh My Says:

    Oh my!

    The builder of 3612 Georgia Avenue NW has a somewhat unusual name!

  16. Josh Says:

    Incredible map! Thanks.

  17. Luke Says:

    You should check out Tilemill, it makes it really easy to make custom maps.


  18. […] map by Park View, D.C., display who built houses in a […]


  19. […] been meaning to link to this map from Park View DC, showing the development of various tracts of land over time in Park View. The key takeaway is that […]


  20. […] in September 2011 I mapped out the neighborhood by sorting through the original building permits to see when houses were built and who built them. […]


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