The Houstory Hearth Herd – June 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

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As a kid, I remember we’d often go to my grandparent’s house on Lopez Island in Washington state. It was a magical place. Sometimes, to save money, we’d leave our car and go on foot. When we arrived at the ferry landing after an hourlong ferry ride from the mainland, my grandparents — who lived about 20 minutes away on the shores of Fisherman’s Bay — would be there to pick us up, and off we’d go.

 

family heirlooms, Jewish Daily Forward

Photo courtesy of The Jewish Daily Forward

My grandfather was a fantastic driver and wasn’t afraid to whip around the winding corners of the island in a spurt of Volkswagen Rabbit-powered speed. Along the way, not far from the landing, I remember an old, wooden, graying house rotting in a vacant, grassy field.

Because of its state of disrepair and isolated location, it was a property that inspired conversation that often was saturated with ghosts, dead bodies and terror of all kinds. I don’t know if that house is still there (as of eight years ago, it was), but I will always regret not peering inside to seek out clues as to what stories it held.

This week, one of our stories — a radio show called “House on Loon Lake” by This American Life — features the story of kids who did go into “that house.” Not only is the house history revealed, but also the stories of the former residents — as relayed through abandoned family heirlooms.

This month’s Herd also includes a number of stories from the United Kingdom, some tragic and some that make you cringe.

Finally, make sure to check out the Jewish Daily Forward article that traced the stories behind 15 truly interesting family heirlooms.

On that note, we challenge you to consider if you are saving these stories for the future. After all, legacy is not about you. It’s about who comes after. Because if you don’t, who will? Am I right or am I right?

Ned Ryerson, Groundhog Day (:55 seconds): “Am I right or am I right? Or am I right? Am I right?”

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-HouseHistoryAuthor: Mail Online (UK)

TitleLand a D-Day home: Historic houses are being sold on the strength of their wartime connections

Herd-Worthy Because: Where do you fall? Do war stories sell properties? This article seems to hit folks the wrong way. What do you think?

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Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleMilk Bottle Buildings of Southeast Massachusetts

Herd-Worthy Because: Oddly shaped buildings of yesteryear combined with dairy product culture…what’s not to like?

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AuthorNick Barratt

Title: “How to research the history of your home (UK)

Herd-Worthy Because: Great tips from a well-known house historian on the other side of the pond from Houstory.

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AuthorThis American Life 

TitleHouse on Loon Lake

Extra: For photos, visit this Flickr Page!

Herd-Worthy Because: One of my favorite TAL episodes that was recently re-aired. How can it not be with quotes like this? “I was 13 years old and I had a crush on a house.”

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Author: Asbury Park Press (NJ)

TitleNew exhibit – The History of Houses and the Things that Make Them Home

Herd-Worthy Because: This could have been in either the family heirloom section, or the house history section. Either way, it belongs.

HERD-Sustainability

AuthorGreen Building Press

TitleHistoric house cuts energy consumption by 90 percent

Herd-Worthy Because: Older doesn’t have to mean inefficient.

HERD-FamilyHeirloomsAuthor: Associated Press

TitleHeirlooms’ value shifts from sentiment to cash

Herd-Worthy BecauseFolks just aren’t holding on to family heirlooms the way they used to. Do you agree?

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Author: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, Minn.)

TitleBasement treasure needs a home

Herd-Worthy Because: I just thought it was kinds of a cool classified section advertisement found within the confines of the newspaper. I wonder if anyone ever acted on it?

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Author: Newcastle Herald (AUS)

Title: “Keepsakes for lost babies

Herd-Worthy Because: A touching, gentle reminder of young lives lost.

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Author: The Jewish Daily Forward

TitleThe Things We Carried - The Heirlooms That Tell Our Stories

Herd-Worthy Because: Family heirlooms. 15 stories. Soup spoons, candlesticks and Torrah Scrolls…

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Until we herd again…

 

 

 

Bald and Bold: Just who are the Houstory brothers?

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

I don’t know about you, but I like to know who I’m doing business with whenever I have the opportunity. I try to choose companies that align with my values (although it now seems like there are only a handful of companies in the world, doesn’t it?) A proven track record of a business operating with decency, trust and generally living by The Golden Rule is important.

houstory, marian pierre-louis, maureen taylor, home history, house history

Mike, Maureen Taylor (aka The Photo Detective), house historian Marian Pierre-Louis and Dan a couple of years ago.

 

Are you the same? I’m guessing you are.

So, without further blah blah blahing, let me introduce a brand-spanking new, short video of who Houstory is — even beyond the baldness. Can you tell I miss my hair? Although I must say not having to visit the barber in over a decade has had its perks. I’m blah blahing again, aren’t I?

Is it important to know who you do business with? Do you even want to know? We’d love to connect with you. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

 

 

The Houstory Hearth Herd – May 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me at LinkedIn!

When my father-in-law recently passed away, it took a considerable amount of time to sort through his online accounts. His Facebook page had to be closed, e-mail correspondence had to be attended to and online passwords had to be changed.

According to  Sue Doerfler of The Arizona Republic, these were, in effect, his “digital heirlooms.” She recently wrote about the topic.

I’m not sure if I’d call them “heirlooms,” but I understand the sentiment and these are things that need to be considered as we get older. This month’s Herd includes an interesting take on this subject.

The Simpsons, family history

The Herd also includes two submissions from Houstory Hearth reader Joan Hostetler of Indianapolis (see the really cool photo below). She put together two interesting pieces dealing with house histories and vintage photographs I encourage you to check out.

And then there are The Simpsons. TV’s No. 1 name in animated families. Did you know that I live in the city that inspired the Simpson’s Springfield? No joke. They’ve been around so long they have their own extremely detailed family history, and a book detailing their family tree will be coming out in September. Check out the link below. After you’ve read yourself blind, please let us know what you think with a short comment. We’d appreciate it!

house history, Indianapolis, photography, family history

Photo courtesy of Joan Hostetler.

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-HouseHistoryAuthor: Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services and a Houstory Hearth reader

Title: “Indianapolis Then and Now: 1939 and 1945 N. Pennsylvania Street

Herd-Worthy Because: Big thanks to Joan for contacting us and contributing this fantastic article that is both heirloom and house history. Our kind of story!

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Author: Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo & Research Services and a Houstory Hearth reader

Title: “Indianapolis Then and Now: The Ryan/Gasaway Home, 1103 E. 9th Street

Herd-Worthy Because: The history of a modest frame cottage and the political occupant. Every house has a story. And this is an especially good one.

HERD-FamilyHistory,etc.Author: Jess Gilley, Technology Tell

Title: “The Simpsons Family History is hitting shelves this year

Herd-Worthy Because: Who doesn’t at least appreciate The Simpsons. And like I said, I’m Springfield Proud!

HERD-FamilyHeirloomsAuthor: BBC News (contributed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

Title: “200-year-old recipe book heirloom given to family

Herd-Worthy Because:  Flummery. Calves head hashed. Shrewsbury cakes… Handwritten recipes, given to the author’s great-great-great-grandson. What’s not to like?

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AuthorMaureen Taylor (aka “The Photo Detective”)

Title: “Saving a Slice of Family History“;

Herd-Worthy Because: Sometimes, family history is deliciously edible.

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Author: Sue Doerfler, The Arizona Republic

Title: “Estate plan should pass down digital heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: “Digital-asset planning is a fairly new concern for consumers as well as estate planners.” Sounds like it’s right up our alley.

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Author: Viralnova.com (referred to by Dick Eastman)

Title: “After His Death, This Grandpa’s Family Found a Trunk He Left Behind. What’s Inside is Fascinating

Herd-Worthy Because: A trunk proves to be a connection to the past. Unfortunately, as the article points out, much of the stuff — artwork, books —  left his heirs guessing. Every time I see or hear a story like this I think about what a gift an Heirloom Registry tag and just ten minutes of time to share the story behind the things he felt important enough to save in a special trunk would have meant to his family.

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Author: Jill Scharr, Tom’s Guide

Title: “3D Printing Recreates Long-Lost Family Heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: As the author states: “Have you ever wished your family still had that old necklace your grandmother was wearing in her wedding photo?” CRAZY!

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Author: Bustle

Title: “These Stilettos That Will Last 1,000 Years  Are Your New Family Heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: Even we don’t guarantee 1,000 years for our Home History Books (only several centuries). I wonder if the future will have any use for stilettos?

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Author: Dale Hrabi

Title: “The Instant Family Heirloom

Herd-Worthy Because: “”What if you could buy new furniture that’s practically guaranteed to become a timeless treasure?

 

Until next month’s herd…

 

 

House history: How to research architecture

Our last house history post examined the “How to hire a house historian.” This week, we step back and look at architectural elements as they relate to a home’s history. If you like what you see, please let us know with a comment and spread the word about us. We sure would appreciate it!

What good is architectural information?: Architectural drawings can reveal a lot about your home, such as specific measurements of rooms, home mechanics and even hidden details you may not be aware of. Additionally, they may provide insight into materials used on your home, floor and electrical plans and even design techniques used to build your house.

house history, home history book, architecture

Finding the architect: Building permits can be a valuable source of information. If the records have not been discarded, they might be found at a municipal or county agency, such as the building inspection department, the planning commission’s office, or the city engineer’s office. They will often contain contact information for the architect.

Finding the layout of your home: Architectural drawings can be found in a myriad of places, such as with the current owner, in a storage space, in a library or archives, with the descendants of the original owner, or perhaps even with the family or alma mater of the home’s builder or architect.

Historical archiving: The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) was established in 1933. For Houstorians™, this is a good thing, as survey holdings include drawings, photographs and even building histories of selected structures around the U.S. Much of the survey data is permanently on file at the Library of Congress, and provides a database to compare building characteristics. Catalogues based on the HABS collection have been produced for some local municipalities. Historical societies or museums and libraries — in addition to preservation associations and city and state historic commissions — may have information about the HABS project. For more information: http://www.nps.gov/history/hdp/

For more information on how to research your home’s history, visit the Home History Book archival journal Research and Preservation Center at http://www.homehistorybook.com/research.

Are you a house historian? Or, as we’ve cleverly coined, a “Houstorian.” Or maybe you’ve worked with one you can recommend? We’d love to connect with you. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Houstory Deals of the Month — May 2014

Finally, it’s getting warmer outside. We don’t know about you, but we’re ready for a little sun after a very cold winter. Well, we suppose that depends on where you are in the world, right southern hemisphere Houstorians?

For the rest of us, while it is still a bit rainy and before you get too carried away with all the fun that gardening, camping, biking, swimming and generally relaxing outside has to offer, you may want to take care of a little spring cleaning in the form of family history documentation. This month, we are giving you a chance to save the stories behind 10 family heirlooms with a 25 percent discount on a 10-pack of our Heirloom Registry Standard Stickers. The stickers work with all sorts of furniture, clocks, and lots of other objects.

And for those who are sprucing up the outside of their homes, make sure to document these “before” and “after” shots in a new Home History Book archival journal Premier Classic. This is the top of the line as far as our Home History Book archival journal product line goes. It’s a book that was actually made at the oldest hand bindery in the country in Boston, Mass. For those who invest in the book, it will last the residents and homeowners in your house centuries. This month only, we are offering 25 percent savings on the Premier.

Enjoy your spring!

heirloom registry, houstory, may 2014 deals of the month

home history book, houstory, may 2014 deals of the month

Once per month here at The Houstory Hearth, we are giving the Houstory Nation a chance to save big on our product line. Each of the two monthly discounts will represent our two product lines: The Home History Book archival journal, and The Heirloom Registry. For serious family historians, house historians, real estate agents, bed and breakfast owners, antique dealers, and family heirloom aficionados, the “Houstory Deals of the Month” should be a regular stop on your online itinerary. Make sure to stop by on the second Wednesday of every month to find out what the latest deals are. Questions? Thoughts? Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

Washington coast antique store full of stories

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

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I went to a presentation a few weeks ago that featured Annie Leonard, author and founder of The Story of Stuff.  The Story of Stuff, if you haven’t heard of it, is an organization that effectively uses video to examine the ways we, as a culture, manufacture, use, and often throw away stuff.

The Story of Stuff message, while perhaps not as personal, is very similar to what Houstory is trying to convey. The Story of Stuff looks at issues from a much more global perspective, examining not so much the individual stories associated with the things we manufacture and buy, but the systemic environmental and economic burdens our throwaway culture places on the planet.

Interestingly, Annie said she can’t look at simple objects anymore without thinking of their provenances.  For example (and I’m paraphrasing), a simple faucet has myriad parts. The handle, the stem, the screws that keep it together. Where was the brass mined? In which factory did the threaded spindle get manufactured? These stories are ever-present in how she views the world and objects within it.

In much the same way, I ponder the stories of the things I see everyday as well. For example, I can’t walk down the street without seeing a house and wondering who lived there. Or if I’m visiting a friend’s house or browsing through an antique store, I can’t help but question who owned the objects I’m seeing, and what their stories were?

the simpsons, antiques

Who once owned this Chia Homer? A mystery remains…

Recently, I visited an antique store on the Washington coast. And, as per norm, I saw history and stories everywhere I turned. Today, I’m going to share a small glimpse of what I encountered in the form of a short video. For purposes of time, I focused on popular culture-type items. I hope you enjoy!

Do you ever wonder about the stories behind your stuff? Let us know what you think. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

The Houstory Hearth Herd – April 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history bookI consider myself a pretty organized guy. In fact, after several adolescent years spent making fun of my dad for his almost religious dedication and interaction with his Day-Timer Planner, I am a slave to The To-Do List. I’d go so far to say that if I didn’t have access to my Google calendar, I’d likely forget to wear pants or that I need to eat. 

Now, playfully fulfilling the role I once held opposite my pops,  my wife makes fun of the multiple lists I have laying around the house on a regular basis. (On a separate note, it’s amazing how much you become like your parents as you get older. But that’s another story.)

What does this peculiar set of facts have to do with you, the members of The Houstory Nation? Hopefully, a lot.

interview, family history

Photo by Maggie Fimia, My Edmonds News

I’ve been working on developing an editorial calendar so that my fellow Houstorians know what they can expect (generally speaking) moving forward at The Hearth. As an example, we are going to have a deals of the month post every month, as well as house history research tips, among other editorial features.

Today’s post is our first in a series which we call “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply going to be a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. On a related note, I just finished a Louis L’Amour book that had to do with a cattle drive. I’m not sure if that informed my series name decision or not. I’m also a huge fan of alliteration, which is sometimes a problem.

Anyhow, we will focus the Herd’s content to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Now, on to the April 2014 Houstory Hearth Herd.

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AuthorLisa Louise Cooke

Title: “It’s the Little Things: Family Heirlooms are Family History

Herd-Worthy Because: Speaks for itself, doesn’t it? In fact, it’s safe to say this article illustrates why we are in business. If you haven’t listened to Lisa’s podcast and you appreciate family history, do check it out.

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Author: The Washington Post

Title: “Guess who lived here? Tenants embrace D.C. homes with famous history

Herd-Worthy Because: House history, with a twist. Our good friend and house historian colleague, Paul Kelsey Williams, was mentioned in the article. If you like D.C. house history, you know what you should do.

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Author: Gannon Burgett

Title: “100-Year-Old Negatives and Camera Found Inside Oklahoma City Time Capsule

Herd-Worthy Because: Genealogist, family historian and technology guru (and our good friend) Caroline Pointer provided us with this story. The concept of a time capsule is truly at the heart of both The Heirloom Registry and The Home History Book archival journal. Plus, it’s pretty darn cool.

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Author: Good HouseKeeping

Title: “13 Things That Make a House a Home

Herd-Worthy Because: As the article states, “Here are a few of our favorite things that transform a mere shelter into a safe haven.” Spoiler alert: this list includes family heirlooms!

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Author: Maggie Fimia, My Edmonds News

Title: “Family History: Tips for informally interviewing your relatives

Herd-Worthy Because: Stories, baby! If you don’t take time to sit down and listen, your family history will slip away. Family historian Maggie Fimia has great tips on how to prevent this slippage from happening.

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Author: The Modesto Bee

Title: “Modesto (Calif.) dry cleaner has collection of abandoned heirlooms

Herd-Worthy Because: One question: How in the  heck would you forget to pick up your wedding dress?

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Author: The New York Times

Title: “With Granda’s Ring, I Thee Wed

Herd-Worthy Because: Reusing and recycling family history is not such a bad thing! The article examines how many young people are using family “heirlooms or other vintage rings for more affordable, often more meaningful, alternatives to new diamonds and wedding bands.”

Until next month’s herd…

Do you have family heirlooms that have a dark side?

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

The family heirlooms universe is an interesting one. The stories behind these objects elicit a wide range of varying emotions — including some that fall on the “not-so-good” side of the ledger.

mein kampf, adolf hitler, family heirlooms

Some family heirlooms have very complicated histories.

 

I recently came across a dramatic example of this darker side of family history. Instructor Hinda Mandell, Ph.D., a Boston native, who teaches in the Department of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology, recently wrote an article about a family heirloom that was potentially disturbing: a copy of Mein Kampf.

 

Because of the mystery surrounding the provenance of the item, she was inclined to investigate what could be an important, if chilling, part of her family’s genealogy. As part of that process, her husband made a movie about the experience. Much like houses,  family heirlooms do not always have a pleasant story to tell. However, good or bad, I think these stories are all a part of the human experience. I suppose that’s the journalist in me.

I did try to come up with a dark family heirloom story of my own, but I was unable to do so. Who knows, though? I’m sure there are a couple of objects in my family’s possession that fall in this arena, but I don’t know because these backgrounds have fallen by the wayside with the passage of time. If stories are not documented, they are easily lost.

Do you have any family heirlooms with a dark backstory? Do you think these stories should be documented and shared? Or are they better forgotten? Let us know what you think. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

 

 

How to hire a house historian

So you’ve decided to enlist some help when it comes to researching your home’s history, and want to hire a house historian.

Surprisingly, house historians — in the purest sense of the phrase — are not as prevalent as you might think. Houstory (fittingly pronounced “House-Story”), has been around several years now (since 2007), and we’ve made it our business to track down a growing collection of house historians to add to the company’s house historian search engine.

house historian, hiring

 

These are individuals we have entrusted to help owners of our product, The Home History Book archival journal, fill in the details of their home’s past. For real estate agents seeking a unique closing gift, or bed and breakfasts trying to share their historic property’s background, time is often of the essence and help researching this history is well worth the cost.

A house historian can be employed to write your entire home history, track down just your old tax records, find information about a particular owner — or something in between. Before you hire a home historian, do your research. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) have developed a handy checklist for the hiring process, as has historian Dan Curtis.

Are you a house historian? Or maybe you’ve worked with one you can recommend? We’d love to connect with you. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

Houstory Deals of the Month: April 2014

Once per month here at The Houstory Hearth, we are giving the Houstory Nation a chance to save big on our product line. Each of the two monthly discounts will represent our two product lines: The Home History Book archival journal, and The Heirloom Registry.

For serious family historians, house historians, real estate agents, bed and breakfast owners, antique dealers, and family heirloom aficionados, the “Houstory Deals of the Month” should be a regular stop on your online itinerary. Make sure to stop by on the second Wednesday of every month to find out what the latest deals are.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, or say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

 

Heirloom Registry, Premium Labels, deal of month

Home History Book Deluxe archival journal, deals of the month, Mahogany Classic