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Researching Your House
by Kara Hamley O'Donnell

Courtesy of “Focus on the Heights,” published by the City of Cleveland Heights, here are some rudimentary tips for researching your house.

To begin with, you will need the house’s address and the permanent parcel number, which you can get from your deed or by calling the Cuyahoga County Auditor at 216-443-7092. The Auditor also maintains a web site from which you can glean basic information about your house, as well as the permanent parcel number. The address is

Cleveland Heights City Hall, 40 Severance Circle, Cleveland Heights
At Cleveland Heights City Hall, Original Building Permits, which give the name of the owners, builders and architects involved are available for many homes built after 1915. Also at City Hall, the Planning Department has plat maps from 1898, 1912, 1914, 1920 and 1941 available for reference.

Cuyahoga Country Archives, 2905 Franklin Avenue, Cleveland
Ask to be taken to the room at the southwest corner of the building and look at the “big maps.” They are well organized and clearly labeled. They show the various owners of the property and when they acquired it. The Archives also stocks old City Directories, which are similar to today’s phone books. However, in addition to a person’s name and address, his/her occupation is listed. Lastly, building cards (tax assessor’s cards) are available at the Archives. You may find one with a 1950s-era photo of your house on it.

Cleveland Public Library, 325 Superior Avenue, NE, Cleveland
The Cleveland Public Library has a wealth of information. For example, the Photo Archive has a box of photos for Cleveland Heights. However, you must wade through the pictures in hopes of finding one of your house. The Library’s Necrology Index is another information source. Once you have discovered the names of your home’s previous owners, you can find out more about them by looking through the Library’s obituary index on microfilm. Lastly, the Library’s Map Room contains plat maps and the “Sanborn” maps, which are on online and on microfilm. These fire insurance maps show a footprint of the building, much like the plat maps available at City Hall.

Cleveland Heights Main Library, 2345 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights
The Heights Library stocks clipping files on various topics and a reference selection of several local history books. The Sun Press is also on microfilm as far back as the 1920s. Also see the City Directories from 1930 and after.

Cleveland State University Library, 1860 East 22nd Street, Cleveland
Special Collections houses many historic documents and is home to the Cleveland Digital Library. The Cleveland Press clipping file is arranged by topic. You can click up names of people, places or events and search out a file.

Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland
There is a wealth of information here, including a detailed photo archive, historic postcards, maps, books, personal papers of prominent Clevelanders, and information from the Women’s Civic Club of Cleveland Heights.

Cuyahoga County Recorder, 1219 Ontario, second floor
This is where you can find the deed history of your property. It is time consuming and tedious work; however it is easier if you have most of the names and dates from the Cuyahoga County Archives.

Kelvin Smith Library, CWRU, 11055 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
This library has an interesting archive. You will find The Plain Dealer on microfilm, as well as Cleveland history books, old plan books and general local information.

The Cleveland Heights Planning and Development Department also encourages you to contact them with additional questions about researching your home. The number is 216-291-4885.


The Cleveland Heights Historical Society recently acquired a lengthy list of Property Research Tips from the Cleveland Public Library. CHHS extends its thanks to CPL.

* Discovering the History of Your Historic Home
* Tracing the History of Your Property
* Finding the History in Your Home
* How to Find the History of Your House
* Researching the History of Your House
* Investigating Your House’s History
* Piecing Together Your House’s History
* House Historic Research Guide
* Historic House Architecture
* Society of Architectural Historians
* Researching the History of Your Home
* History of Your Historic House
* Finding the History of Your House
* How to Research the History of Your Home


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