‘The Vista House’ – A jewel on the Columbia River

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

I wasn’t necessarily planning on writing a blog entry this week, but I was inspired to when I saw “The Vista House” on a recent trip to Central Washington. I had to share what I saw.

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house


Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house


Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

They call this octagonal structure a “house” in the loosest sense of the word. It’s more of a monument/observatory perched 733 feet above the Columbia River below. Designed to withstand the area’s famous winds, the face of the building is faced with ashlar-cut sandstone, and the interior walls are Alaska Tokeen Marble and Kosota Limestone.

In other words, this thing ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.

According to The Vista House Web site, the building — which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places — was built between 1916-1918 by Multnomah County (Oregon), “as a comfort station and scenic wayside for those traveling on the Historic Columbia River Highway, which had been completed in 1913. It is also a memorial to Oregon pioneers. It was formally dedicated on May 5th, 1918.”

During the early part of this century, the building underwent a five-year renovation and was re-opened in 2005 to the public.

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

The day we were there was a perfect time to take in the views the property affords. I will say it was pretty darn crowded, and be prepared to stop and start quite often on the way down the mountain, especially if you go by the popular Multnomah Falls trailhead. Don’t let the people and the huge, vicious dogs (see the picture) dissuade you from the journey, though.

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house, dog


Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house



The Houstory Hearth Herd – July 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

I’m curious: Were you born before 1946? In other words, are you a “pre-Baby Boomer?”

During the past few years, there have been an array of reports that have attempted to grasp how much wealth pre-baby boomers — those born before 1946 — are going to pass down to their kids and grandkids.

While all agree the number will set a new record for “intergenerational transfers,” the estimates are surprisingly varied, ranging from $25 trillion to $136 trillion according to one study.

Chances are, if you are in that pre-’46 demographic, you are not only passing down money, but also valuable possessions — including family heirlooms. And if you are not passing them down, you may be — gasp! — trying to sell them for a profit, or simply giving them away.

This month, I’ve included a link to a radio interview that discusses how challenging the market for selling and even giving away old furniture has become.

Now, I’d like to present my case for how The Heirloom Registry can help increase your odds of successfully parting with your treasured — but now unneeded — older furniture.

* Imagine a future Saturday spent antiquing with a friend or spouse. You are looking for a table. You see three tables, all essentially of the same look and quality. But one has an Heirloom Registry ID tag. You pull out your smart phone (or simply jot down the ID number), go to HeirloomRegistry.com and pull up the story behind the table. In a few seconds, you see this particular table was owned by a family in Central Texas that used to invite single war veterans over for Sunday dinner during the early ’50s. After eating dinner on this very table, they would often play cards, the registration says, “well into the night.” In fact, I don’t have to imagine: That is the story behind our table. And, after I spoke to the owner we bought it from, it’s all documented. If I had pressed (and I probably should have), perhaps the owner could have provided a black and white photo of the table — circa early 1950s — showing one of these gatherings. Perhaps with some of the people in the photo identified. It took me under 15 minutes to permanently tell the story of my table, which now includes a couple sentences — and a 2011 photo — about how it made its way to Oregon with my wife and I.  As you look at my future table on consignment in some future antique store full of people that care about history do you think my table — which otherwise looks just like the others — might have an edge? I’ll let you answer. 🙂

With that said, I know not everyone cares for stories. In fact, I’d say most people don’t. But for the few that “get it,” it makes a big difference. I’m guessing you care, or you probably wouldn’t still be reading.

Take the poll below, and let us know what you think.

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

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


Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleCityLove: Meet Seattle

Herd-Worthy Because: Just showing my hometown some love. I’ve got a lot of pride in the Emerald City. This just gives me another reason. “Seattle really is green…Thinking about green in a preservation context, Seattle also has some great examples of medium- and large-scale adaptive reuse.” Oh, and “Go Hawks!”



Author: NPR’s Tell Me More

TitleIn a Tough Market for Old Furniture, Manage Your Expectations

Herd-Worthy Because: Hmmm, so it’s tough to sell your old furniture? And you need every advantage you can get to make it special? Sounds like a job for The Heirloom Registry. If people know the stories behind your items, that may be the difference bringing home the green or not.


Author: Monsters & Critics

TitleBob Dylan’s Musical Keepsakes Worth Millions

Herd-Worthy Because: The answer, my friend, is somewhere underneath your bed. Or maybe stuffed into the closet. Perhaps the attic?


Author: The Smithsonian

TitleThe Descendants of Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison Donate Family Heirlooms to the Smithsonian

Herd-Worthy Because: Apparently, some pretty amazing Civil War-era objects spent about 100 years in an attic. And now, their storied past will give them a new life in a very public space. Umm…cool.


Author: AL.com (Alabama)

TitleIdeas for Heirlooms: Wedding planners offer unique ways to incorporate something old into your big day

Herd-Worthy Because: For anyone who loves family heirlooms and is planning for that special day…


Author: The Huffington Post

TitleA Dying Man’s Touching Farewell

Herd-Worthy Because:  A man, dying of cancer, sends a farewell e-mail to friends and family as he tries to get his affairs in order. As someone who believes very strongly in living obits, and taking care of family heirloom designations and stories while you are still alive, this story struck me. Find out what happened.


Author: NPR’s The Takeaway

Title: Student Pallbearers Serve the Underprivileged

Herd-Worthy Because: “Burying the dead, these students learn that every person is worthy of dignity and care, a lesson that makes them more conscious of how they treat the living.” In our opinion, dignity starts with story. And every person has a story.


Author: Dick Eastman

TitleHow They Made Books in 1947”

Herd-Worthy Because: This video reminds me of the process we use for the Home History Book. What can we say?We like well-made books.


Author: Dick Eastman

TitleUSGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer

Herd-Worthy Because: If genealogy guru Dick Eastman says,” This has to be one of the best tools I have seen for finding old maps,” then we in the Houstory Nation are paying attention. Sounds like a great tool for house history, eh?


Referrer: Megan Smolenyak

TitleBBC’s The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window of Britain’s past

Herd-Worthy Because: Here is the synopsis of this BBC series: “Whether exploring London or Scotland, the series does an incredible job of connecting people to places, of teasing out emotions from architecture, of reminding us that buildings and streets are the locations for our own happiest and saddest moments.” Sometimes, I wish I had cable. Or, more specifically, the BBC. One of our favorite UK architectural historians, Melanie Backe-Hansen, is also mentioned prominently in the article.


Until we “Herd” again…



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 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!


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?


AuthorMaureen Taylor (aka “The Photo Detective”)

Title: “Saving a Slice of Family History“;

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


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.


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.


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!


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?


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

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.

House history: 11 tips to research a home’s interior

Our last house history post examined the “Top 12 House History Research Supplies” for house historians, or “houstorians,” as we like to refer them. This week, we will take a peek inside at what it takes to learn about a home’s interior history. 

Facelifts: Try to notice alterations, such as mixed materials or material scarring that may indicate structural deletions. Finding this evidence can be challenging for Houstorians – especially considering modern construction practices that make telling the difference between an original material and a substitute difficult.

house history, research, home interior

Notice the subtleties: Aside from more obvious modifications – such as new room additions – focus on more minor clues, such as signs of wallpaper replacement. This kind of detail may help indicate a room’s previous use.

Get familiar with interior design trends relating to your home’s beginnings: Houstorians should try to research interior design, using books and older publications, such as magazines and newspaper advertisements, if applicable. For example, advertisements may provide insight into a variety of interior-design issues, ranging from costs of materials and goods to appliances, heating and cooling systems.

Line things up: To get a full picture of a houstory, take a bird’s eye view of how your home’s rooms are laid out. Are the dominant line features curving, horizontal, or are they vertical? For example, many 18th- and 19th-century rooms emphasize vertical design by utilizing high ceilings, towering windows and oversized doors, whereas other styles may have more rounded features.

House plan books: These types of books have been around since the mid 1800s. They contain sketches or photos of homes, complete with floor plans – which can be invaluable from a Houstory perspective. Homeowners would simply send away for blueprints, and give them to their builders to construct. Libraries and some larger bookstores may have copies of the original books. Newspapers — and perhaps even some lumber companies, who produced the wood needed for homes — may also have the information. For example, from 1908 to 1940, Sears, Roebuck & Company marketed and sold approximately 100,000 homes by catalog.

Get in there and get dirty: Get up close and personal with your walls – which may give clues to the timeframes of the building. Houstorians may have differing moldings in the same room for example, which may help to indicate modifications. Clues can be everywhere. For example, holes in walls may lead to observations about locations of paintings or lighting; unusual window shapes and sizes may help to clarify the locations of decorative windows.

Look at things in a different light: Original paint colors and wallpaper can be difficult to ascertain for Houstorians, as rooms can transform shades on a fairly regular basis. Often, outer fabrics – and sometimes even the wall itself – must be removed or disturbed to make these discoveries. However, sometimes – when walls are examined during various times of day in differing lighting conditions — different clues can become apparent.

Look to the pros: While you may be able to discover a lot on your own, paint chip removal should be done with extreme caution by Houstorians – not only in terms of home damage, but also information accuracy. Light, aging, pollution, glazes – all can alter the look of the paint. In many cases, professional conservators are needed for final evaluation.

Clues at your feet: Floors and floor coverings are often pages in the life story of your home. Details about furniture locations and room uses can be revealed to Houstorians by carefully examining floors for things like marks, burns, scars, and water damage. However, sanding, polishing and waxing floors – or replacing older carpet – can destroy or greatly compromise the accuracy of this information.

Apply your knowledge of appliances: Appliance styles – particularly in bathrooms, utility rooms and kitchens – can really help Houstorians gather valuable insight. These rooms are nearly always the first locations in a house to receive the latest and greatest in technology. Leftover clues, such as capped gas lines, electrical outlets, switches and lighting fixtures can also tell a tale.

Using public utilities: If permits are not available or accessible for some reason, public utility connection dates can help Houstorians to verify construction dates and potential improvements that may have occurred. Utility companies may have access to records and maps showing approximate times of when gas lines were laid, or electrical lines were put in place, for example.

For more on how to research your home’s history, and effective ways to make sure these stories are saved for the future, please visit www.homehistorybook.com.

Is the family heirloom dead?

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Director

Are family heirlooms still important?

This week, the Houstory Hearth examines two pieces of evidence — ironically discovered on the same day in a batch of Google Alerts — that contradict one another when answering this  question. It got me thinking: I should take the temperature of the family heirloom movement.

houstory, family heirlooms, heirloom registry

2 articles, 2 viewpoints.

First, the side contending that family heirlooms are a thing of the past for many.

According to an article at United Kingdom online lifestyle magazine Female First, the family heirloom may be on life support.

That Web site cited a survey released by DeliveryQuoteCompare.com, a moving company that recently reached out to 1,456 people (18 or older)  from around the UK to ask them what their “highest safety” priorities are during a move.

To that end, the company furnished  participants with a list of items they consider to be valuable items typically found in a home.  The wide-ranging catalogue included everything from computers to clothing to furniture, and, yes, family heirlooms. The big winner was — drumroll please — the television! Approximately 52 percent of respondents said they considered the television to be the most important item in their home, primarily due to high replacement cost. Not surprisingly, the PC/laptop came in second at 48 percent. Admittedly, if my house was burning, my laptop would be right up around No. 1 on my list, too.


family heirlooms


Family heirlooms didn’t even crack the Top 10, coming in at the No. 11 spot with 14 percent of the overall vote.

According to Female First, “Respondents to the study were given a list of potential items with the following question: ‘What items would you consider to be Family heirlooms?’ This revealed antiques to be the top heirloom at 51 percent , followed by jewelry at 48 percent and silverware at 36 percent.”

The article continued: “Brits were then asked: ‘Do you own anything that you would consider to be a family heirloom?’ to which the 59% of participants said ‘no’. The remaining 41% said that ‘yes’ they did own a family heirloom. When asked if photographs were regarded as heirlooms, 62% of respondents said that they ‘treasured’ photographs but didn’t consider them to be heirlooms. However, 46% of these said that they wouldn’t be ‘too concerned’ if they lost their photos as a large number were still available on social media.”

Even the study’s author, DeliveryQuoteCompare.com, seemed surprised.

“It used to be the case that the family silver came first,” said Daniel Parry, spokesperson for DeliveryQuoteCompare.com as quoted at Female First. “Now it seems that it’s the family television. Or possibly the laptop. It’s probably a modern take on society; priorities change over time, but it’s sad to think that we’ve gone so far that family heirlooms are no longer regarded as something precious.”

I would be curious to see the demographic information on the study, as in how many males were asked vs. females; how many 20-somethings were asked vs. 50-somethings? Let’s face it, often times the closer people are to facing their own mortality, the more important things like legacy and family heirlooms become.

So, there is that side, which highlights the naysayers who believe family heirlooms have little to no importance when it comes to family history.

The second article is much more anecdotal by nature. But I think it shows that asking that question, “Is the family heirloom dead,” completely depends on the respondent. If I were to ask my 16-year-old niece if she values grandma’s quilt as a family heirloom, she might say “yes,” — but probably for reasons that have much more to do with aesthetics than with sentimentality. You know why? Because legacy — and thankfully, the great beyond — don’t really matter as much to her right now as much as the latest iPhone apps, or filling up her car with gasoline.

Fast forward 50 years, and you’ll likely be singing a different tune. Developing legacy in kids is — much like forcing them to eat vegetables — something they may not like now, but something they will be thankful for later.

Which brings me again to the second article in The Guardian newspaper, entitled, “My family heirloom project.” The project, undertaken by a photographer named Joakim Blockstrom, attempts to catalog family heirlooms through story and photo (sound familiar?)

According to the article, the project has grown in popularity and scope, transitioning from a photographic endeavor to something about family history.

The article stated: “As word spread about Blockstrom’s project, he began to hear from strangers who had objects for him to photograph and their own stories to tell. Gradually, he concluded that we all have heirlooms, though they are not always what you would imagine. ‘I have one person who has nothing from her dad except for one of his teeth. It’s a bit gory, but does an heirloom have to be beautiful?'”

To see some of these stories, visit the article. To me, his project shows that interest in family heirlooms is a passion that exists, and can be tapped.

I can’t tell you how many hours Mike and I  have spent listening to stories about family heirlooms — told by complete strangers — at trade shows, local antique stores or genealogical society meetings. Coupled with hundreds of registered users at our own company, The Heirloom Registry, and shows such as Antiques Roadshow on PBS, and it’s clear to me that there is a large contingency of people who hold passion for provenance.

Family Heirloom

So, there you have it: two opposing views on family heirlooms, captured on the same day. I have my own opinions, but we want to hear yours.

What do you think — are family heirlooms dead? What are the factors that play into whether or not family heirlooms are important (age? gender?) 




It’s not often a story about a piece of furniture waters the eyes

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory

A few weeks ago, True Value Hardware released a video story on YouTube, simply entitled, “Table.” I didn’t really know what to expect when I watched it — aside from knowing it was at least loosely related to family heirlooms. Upon hearing the narrator’s first sentence about his grandfather going hungry around “this table” during the depression, I knew I was in for something special. I urge you to take 1:30 seconds to watch this beautiful, moving video.

Okay, I didn’t cry. But, under the right circumstances…

Then I encourage you to think about the “tables” in your own life — the things that matter to your family history — and to save them properly (stories and all). By the way, if you have another couple of minutes, take a look at a video The Heirloom Registry produced about a table. Notice any similarities?



What are the things that matter in your life? Do you have an old table or another piece of furniture with a story? 

Pay for permanence? Applying Dick Eastman’s logic to The Heirloom Registry

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Director

A couple of months  ago, influential genealogical product reviewer Dick Eastman (whom I’ve had the pleasure of  meeting on a couple of occasions) wrote about a company selling “long-lasting display plates containing QR codes.” These plates are affixed to gravestones, which users can then scan to reveal information about the deceased with data provided by the family that purchased the code. From there, they are taken to a dedicated Web page on the company’s server, where information is displayed.

Dick Eastman, Dan Hiestand, Houstory

Dan with Mr. Eastman at FGS 2012 in Birmingham, Ala.

Sound familiar? If you understand the goal of Houstory’s Heirloom Registry, it should.

I’m not going to get into much of his product review, but I would like to highlight a key point Dick made that I believe may resonate with the Houstory audience and customer base.

 “At first, this sounds like a good idea; but, then I wondered, ‘What happens if the company goes out of business and their web site goes offline?’ I assume the answer is that the customer has wasted the money he or she spent,” wrote Dick. “While I hope this company remains in business for a long, long time, I still don’t like the idea of depending upon any one corporation’s future success.”

This sentiment — or a variation of it — is something Houstory founder Mike Hiestand and I have heard on many occasions about our Heirloom Registry service.

And guess what? We completely agree, especially when a company is selling permanence, which is what we are doing. If the future cannot access the information you’ve taken time, energy and — most importantly — money to compile, what’s the point of the effort? There is good news, though: Mike and I have worked hard to solve this problem, and we believe we have.

No. 1: You are in charge of the information you save on The Heirloom Registry. While your family heirloom records are uploaded, edited and saved on our site, ultimately you can save them to your own hard drive, upload them to a Web site or print them out as a hard copy registry certificate PDF. This ability to save the record on your own is an important distinction. How you decide to make that record accessible is really up to you. Our job is to put that data in a format that is easily readable, logical and probably more attractive than anything you’ll take the time to make.

Registration Certificate from The Heirloom Registry

Hard copy of the Registration Certificate from The Heirloom Registry


No.2: Additionally, to ensure longevity, a portion of each registration number fee is deposited in a dedicated fund that will be used to pay for future operation of The Heirloom Registry. Of course, given our ever-changing technology, it’s difficult to predict exactly what form The Heirloom Registry will take in 10 years, let alone 50 or 100, but we are fully committed to our mission and promise to do our level best to ensure that whether “surfing the Internet” or “transbeaming the MetaCosmos,” the purpose and essential function of the Registry as a lasting and accessible source of historical information remains intact.

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No. 3: Here are some hard facts: 1) We can’t guarantee The Heirloom Registry will exist in 100 years. That’s not a promise any company can honestly make.  2) No one else is doing what The Heirloom Registry is doing. 3) Our Certificate of Registration is a way for you to instantly create a physical, lasting record of your heirloom, impervious to changing technology. 4) We have taken concrete steps to protect the integrity of the Registry and the company’s longevity. To be honest, now that all our rather extensive research, site development and upfront costs have been paid, operating the site form day to day is pretty inexpensive. We are proud to say the company is paid for and is wholly family-owned and operated.  5) Your chances of passing on the stories behind your grandma’s handmade quilt, your uncle’s trumpet or your dad’s Brooklyn Dodger’s Louisville Slugger bat are significantly lower if the items are not marked or tagged with identifying information.



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‘Home is where the heart is:’ Share your interesting house photos with Houstory

Home, Paktika Province, Afghanistan
(Photo by Goldsboro Williams)

A reader working in Afghanistan (who, for security reasons — and a bit of fun — asked to be identified by the pseudonym “Goldsboro Williams”) recently submitted this photo of an interesting home in that country’s Paktika Province. His post to us was labeled simply, “Home is Where the Heart Is.”

Mr. “Williams” is right. Wherever it may be, whatever it looks like, I think we all share the same feeling: home is where the heart is.

Bless them all.

And thanks, Goldsboro, for sharing.

If you’ve come across an interesting home — particularly one that really shows off that that often indefinable quality of “heart” — we’d love for you to share it with us and our Houstory readers. Please post your photo on our Facebook page, or shoot us an e-mail (info@houstory.com) with the title “Home is where the heart is.” We’d love to share it with our readers.