Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More house history

The kiddo and I spent a few hours at the library on Saturday looking through the old city directories and deed indices on a creaky, lop-sided microfilm machine. We got a little bit of new information, perhaps-- I'll need to go to the courthouse and look at the actual deeds to confirm.

I believe we left off where I had read the book about our neighborhood; the author listed TH Brannan as the first resident listed in the directory at our address in 1922. Here's where we deviate. The deed index only lists grantor, grantee, date, and which book the deed is in-- it doesn't identify the actual property, not to mention it's handwritten and not really in alphabetical order. I looked up Mr. Brannon, but couldn't find anything where the dates coincided. I did, however, find a Gertrude Brannon with appropriate dates. Hold that thought...

In going through the city directory, we found a lot of cool stuff, including advertisements for the Goldman Hotel, European rooms, with rates from $1!

Postcards from the Fort Smith Historical Society's website. The link there is to an article about the hotel. In 1985, my father was on the crew that was looking to restore the hotel, so I did get to run around the inside a fair bit; it had been mostly gutted by the time they were involved, I think, but was still a cool, monster of a structure. You just knew it had been grand.

We also confirmed something we'd seen in the neighborhood history. In the 1921 directory, there's a resident, W.D. Baker, at a mystery address between ours and our neighbors. There's not an empty lot between us, and that address only appears that one year-- never before or since. I had assumed that this was a garage apartment or something, but I decided to dig a little since I had the index right in front of me.

Follow me here: Mr. Baker is listed as a grantee in February of 1921. He bought the property from H.P. Lyman, et al. Lyman owned a very active real estate agency, and the Lyman, et al, name as a grantor shows up a lot around this time period. My assumption here is that Lyman was a realtor and developer. So now I went to see where Mr. Baker is listed as the grantor, to see when he sold the property that he bought from Lyman. There's a listing showing William Dudley Baker selling a property to Gertrude Brannan in December 1921. See what I just did there? The person who lived at the ghost address (one number over from ours) sold a property to a woman with the same last name as the first resident in our house at the same time that our first resident appears.

My current assumption is that the address was a typo in the city directory, or the neighborhood was rezoned; there was a huge amount of development going on at this time in an area that had been in the country until now. It wouldn't surprise me if the neighborhood itself was still being sussed out.

So. Looks like the house was built in late 1920. By a developer. I'll make a trip to the courthouse to look at the actual records at some point in the future; unfortunately, the research librarian tells me that the courthouse only has 2 microfilm machines and the place is currently crawling with oil and gas speculators. Sometimes you have to wait hours.

So the oilmen screw me every morning and evening when I drive to work and back; now they're gonna screw me in a whole different way.


Melinda said...

I love house history. I keep saying I am going to go to our local library and see what I can dig up but with two rug-rats clinging to either leg the task seems too much.

The hotel looks a lot like the Skirvin Hotel in OKC, which they just reopened after extensive renovations/restorations.

Jenni said...

Our library has only one microfilm machine, and I broke the handle. (It was almost broke before I used it.) I wish someone would invest in a machine that would copy microfilm to a digital search-able format.

Green Fairy said...

Those are some great postcards of the hotel--I love collecting that kind of thing about my own town.

Anonymous said...

Was tin ceilings used in Bungalow style houses in the early 1900's. I have seen references to some but would a renovation using them be an honest renovation. I know they were used in earlier Victorian homes.

Harry said...

were tin ceilings used in early 1900 bungalow style houses. I have seen references to them in renovated homes but would that be an authentic renovation technique? I like them and know they were used in earlier Victorian homes.

Amalie said...

We only used tin ceiling on our backsplash. Honestly, I'm not too concerned with the perfection of it in terms of timeliness. Early 1900s houses also weren't grounded and didn't have microwaves, but you can bet mine is and does! I think the tin ceiling materials give more of the ambiance of the "old" or antique. Even in Victorians, I don't know that it was really used for residential purposes; businesses had these for a long period of time, though.

However, we're not really restoring the house so much as doing a bit of updating and a bit of renovation/remodel, keeping the period in mind. Our lives today are different and have different requirements, and there have been previous owners since it was built-- there were extensive changes made in the 1950s. In other words, it's had a life of its own, so to speak, and I don't want to erase that. I liked the idea of using shellac on the floors, for example, but I still put a layer of poly on at the end. We would have loved to tile our kitchen backsplash, but the 2 1/2 brick thick walls and bare mortar/concrete made that prohibitive for us in several ways.

Harry said...

I agree tht a house belongs to the owners and they should do as they wish with it. I also would not wish to live in a house that was so authentic to an earlier peiod that it had an outhouse and a pump in the kitchen sink. My question was would be concerning a specific house that was associated with a paticular historic person who lived in it during the 1900's, and has gone through extensive change (not for the better) during the years. I have found a number of good books on the subject at the Gustav Stickley Museum web-site. Thanks for your observations. Have fun with you bungalow.