How old

is this old house?

 

It can be tricky to set a precise age for homes that were built 100 years ago or more. Records are inconsistent, incomplete, and sometimes unreliable. 

 

But, it can be done. Check this case study and learn how to do your own research.

 

To begin with, we offer a disclaimer from the Polk County Property Appraiser’s office acknowledging the potential for incorrect data in their database, largely due to the source material, record management, and many system changes over a very long time. A map of homes in the Lake Morton area with “year built” dates from before 1920 simply doesn’t match with a map of homes identified on the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, which guided Jim Edwards and his colleagues as they walked the neighborhood and visually confirmed the location of the homes as they were preparing for its registration as an historic district.

 

So, if you can find you home there, you can be sure. The most useful map at this time was issued in 1917, and the next update was 1922, which is also the last one. A listing the R.L. Polk Directory - available for you review in the Lakeland Room at the Public Library - can also verify the date.

 

The next strategy involves obtaining a property abstract from the title company that last issued documents for your old house. A property abstract is a collection of legal documents that chronicle transactions associated with a particular parcel of land. Generally included are references to deeds, mortgages, wills, probate records, court litigations, and tax sales—basically, any legal document that affects the property.

 

The abstract will show the names of all property owners, how long a particular holder owned it, and the price of the land when it was sold. Rarely will an abstract mention capital improvements to the property. Property abstracts are considered good starting places for research on historical buildings.

 

If the trail is hard to follow or confusing, help can be had in the person of  Gregory Fancelli, who, as a person with high interest in historic properties, has volunteered to steer inquiries to other resources and researchers he knows and has used in his own work.

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The mission of the Association

  • Maintain, enhance, and encourage quality housing that reinforces the character, charm, and architectural integrity of our historic neighborhood

  • Provide a focal point for all neighborhood issues that affect a significant number of our residents

  • Promote beautification, pride, and good stewardship of neighborhood amenities and common spaces to combat neighborhood and community deterioration including juvenile delinquency

  • Promote communication and cooperation between neighborhood residents as well as between the neighborhood and organizations within and including the City of Lakeland.

LMNA on the web.   Also see Lake Morton Neighbors on Facebook