Researching Your Home: Restoring Your Home

This is a guest blog post by our Fine Arts Specialist, Sarah Hagan. This post covers information about how your home might have looked and how to restore it. The previous post covers researching this history of your home, and the people who lived in it.

Maybe your family has owned a home for generations, or maybe you are living in a brand new to you home? No matter your situation, you may be curious about your home’s past. Or maybe you’re interested in what style your home is, or how to paint it in a historically accurate manner? You can find out some of this information online, using the resources in this guide. You can also visit your local branch of the Boston Public Library, or come to the Arts department at the Central Library in Copley Square for more information.

Helpful Resources

How Did My House Originally Look?

Blueprints

The Boston Public Library’s collection of blueprints for buildings circa 1900-1966 has moved to the Boston City Archives in West Roxbury. For more information on how to access the blueprints through the Boston City Archives, please email archives@boston.gov. Post-1966 building plans have been microfilmed by the City’s Inspectional Services Department. They are located at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02118 and their phone number is (617) 635-5300.

Photographs

Most of the photographs owned by the Boston Public Library have been digitized and uploaded to Digital Commonwealth. While you may not find a direct photo of your home, there are many street views that may show your home, among others. Historic New England or other local historical associations may also have valuable photographs. Books in the Local History section of the Boston Public Library, particularly the Then & Now or Images of America series of books, may have photos of your street or neighborhood from the past.

What Style is My House? 

American House Styles

House Styles in America

The Abrams Guide to American House Styles

What Style Is It?

Identifying American Architecture

American Architecture Since 1780

Boston's Triple-deckers (many resources)

What Color Might My House Have Been Painted in the Past?

Bungalow Colors

Century of Color

Victorian Exterior Decoration

Painted Ladies

Daughters of Painted Ladies

How Can I Restore My Historic House?

Green Restorations

Fabrics and Wallpapers for Historic Buildings

Renovating & Restyling Vintage Homes

Caring for your Historic House

Repairing Old and Historic Windows

We hope these resources will be helpful to you as you research your home.  If you have any questions please feel free to email ask@bpl.org.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Boston Public Library