History Mystery

Spent some time today down at City Hall, researching as much as we could about the history of our Irish Channel house.
It was represented to us at sale that the main part of the house was built in about 1850, with the addition tacked on about 1910. Though the neighborhood is certainly that old, it’s hard to put a lot of stock in anything said by someone who’s trying to sell you something.
At any rate, we spent about an hour in several City Hall offices, meeting some very helpful people in the Real Estate Records office, the Conveyance Office and so forth. This led to opening of several large books of handwritten bills of sale, kept in the basement.
We were able to trace ownership back to December of 1888, at which point we hit a dead end. There was apparently a mistake in the recording of information. Each document of sale refers to how the seller obtained the property and where to find that record. But in this case, the reference would have moved FORWARD in time instead of backward. Going to that reference, we found nothing remotely related to the 1888 owners or even to the property in question.
This hints that 1) a mistake was made, or 2) some sort of malfeasance was going on at City Hall. I consider both scenarios equally likely.
…so, for now, roughly 30 years of the house history remains a mystery. But I want to go back to find out more about the earliest recorded owner and possibly to find out exactly when this house was built. I also want to know what various things it might have been before it was a residence, since the bones of the building suggest some sort of bar or possibly a retail establishment. Or both.
For the most part, over the past 100 years, the owners of the propety were Italian. In this city, that hints at possibly some type of grocery or other food-related business.

…and that would be very, very neat — given that I’m in the food business myself. So the effort will continue.

6 Comments so far

  1. Skeeter2 (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 11:02 am

    There should be an index by year in which you can look up the seller’s name as a buyer. Start in 1888 and go backwards until you find the transaction. It’s tedious but …

    There are people whose job is to research real estate title and they could find the connection for your parcel for little cost. Email me and I’ll give you a reference.

  2. rcs (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 12:03 pm

    Did you talk to the Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC?) They surveyed the entire Channel when it was landmarked and they might have access to the Sanborn maps for the area as well (assuming you haven’t already looked at them.) The Sanborns were drawn at 5-10 year intervals so you can get pretty close to the build date (just find the latest map that doesn’t show your house.)

    Good luck! House research is fun.

  3. Craig (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 1:41 pm

    Thanks. We’re just beginning this escapade, so any help is appreciated. It’ll be fun.

  4. rcs (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 3:12 pm

    Possibly helpful:

    How to Research the History of Your House (or Other Building) in New Orleans

    Gotta plug the New Orleans Public Library website, especially the City Archives and Special Collections part. I’ve spent hours going through the old photographs they’ve scanned and published. Great stuff.

  5. rcs (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

    All right, one more and that’s all I’ve got!

    Via our friends at the New Orleans Notarial Archives, here’s Robinson

  6. Craig (unregistered) on June 30th, 2005 @ 4:45 pm

    Thank you muchly. The 1883 atlas indeed shows this building (plate 11), so we’re back that far.

    While you were posting your welcome advice, we were at the public library getting our cards so we could further this research.

    Again, thanks.

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