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Researching Your Old House:

Guide to Resources for Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana
Researching an old house can be fun, and challenging too! Let us take you through the steps to find out as much about your Fort Wayne or Allen County home as possible.

Two great articles about local house history research have been written in recent years by our two local newspapers. These can be found on microfilm at the Main Library.
  • House History Hunting by Carol Tannehill
    The News-Sentinel, April 20, 2002, Summit at Home section, page 6SU.
  • House Sleuthing: Tracing Home's Past Brings History Alive by Justin Baer
    The Journal Gazette, Dec 21, 1997, Home section, page 1G.

1. Fort Wayne Architecture on the Internet
2. Fort Wayne Architecture at the Allen County Public Library
3. House Style Guides
4. Going Beyond the Library and the Internet

1. Fort Wayne Architecture on the Internet
You may be able to find out about your home on the Internet. Beyond a Google search, try these sites:
2. Fort Wayne Architecture at the Allen County Public Library
The Allen County Public Library has research resources very specific to Fort Wayne, Allen County, and Indiana. As unique resources, they may only be available at the library. While some may circulate, if the location is listed as Reference or Genealogy, you will need to use these books at the library.
    Books and videos on Fort Wayne and Allen County homes and neighborhoods. Clicking this link will open a new web page so you can do further searching of our library catalog. A favorite resource is the Fort Wayne, Indiana Interim Report: a presentation of historic resources, achievements and possibilities, a 1996 publication of the Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory.

    The library's Genealogy Center offers several resources (street maps, city directories, obituaries, Sanborn maps, deed records, census records, etc.) that may help you figure out the "past life" of your Allen County home. Please visit us for help in conducting your research.
    3. House Style Guides
    You may find that while we have little on your house specifically, we have many books that may describe your home's architectural style. These books should prove helpful when redecorating or renovating your historic home.

    Search our catalog for House Style books to help you determine your home's architectural style.
    You can also try these web sites for researching house styles: Once you know your home's architectural style, look for books specific to that style. Search our catalog for Colonial style or Cape Cod style houses. Usually, this is the search pattern to use when searching our catalog: type in (architecture OR houses OR dwellings) AND style name. Example: (architecture OR houses OR dwellings) AND victorian.

    Here are a few quick searches for styles common to our area:
    Books on popular house styles of the 1920's and 1930's (Bungalow; Arts & Crafts; Craftsman).
    Books on the Victorian Style

    There are also general guides to help you redecorate in the period and style of your home. Search for books on Interior Details for historic home styles. These books often cover more than one style. You might also find it helpful to search for a specific style.
    4. Going Beyond the Library and the Internet
    You may need to visit the county auditor's office, township assessor's offices, county recorder's office, the Allen County Fort Wayne Historical Society, or the Allen County Building Department before you exhaust all the possibilities for local information sources about your home. Many of the strategies for which office you will need to visit are outlined in the newspaper articles referred to at the beginning of this web page and in the DNR's Records Search Handbook.

    We doubt you would need to go statewide, but Indiana Landmarks offers a PDF of their Historic House Research Handbook. This handbook details many of the same strategies covered in the Fort Wayne newspaper articles and DNR guide, but also specifies statewide (primarily Indianapolis-based) research resources. Indiana Landmarks also has a library and staff to help you.

    We hope you have found this guide helpful in learning more about your home sweet historic home. Good luck in your research!

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