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Homes along Park Avenue in winter time, 1941

Finding Out About Your Home

Many people are curious to know more about the houses they live in: how the house used to look, who used to live there, how old it is, who designed and built it, and so on. The Museum library doesn't have information about every house in Wilmette, and much of what we do have is not as complete as we would like, but with a little digging there's a very good chance that you can find out at least something about the history of your house. Here are some places to look:

Historical and architectural survey

In the 1990s the Wilmette Preservation Commission looked at most of the houses in the Village and made notes about each one's architectural style, historical significance, and estimated age. This is a good place to start.

Real estate listings

These files, which range from the late 1930s to the 1970s, include notes on the owner, the asking price, and the appearance of the house. Many of the listings include a photograph.

Files by street address

The Museum maintains files on many historically interesting houses in the Village, with a variety of information about the design and previous owners.

Street and telephone directories

Our collection of street and telephone directories, going back to 1890, can be a handy tool for finding out about previous owners. Most listings are by name, but some directories include listings by address. Directory entries for 1890, 1898, and 1908 have been entered into a database and are available for online searching.

Photographs of houses

By checking the Photograph Index under both "Structures" and "Streetscapes," you can find out if we have a photo of your house. Some of these are old picture postcards!

Plats of survey

The research library's files of these land surveys rarely have any information about the house itself, but they can sometimes tell you about the site on which it was built, including neighboring lots.

Architectural plans

We have a small collection of residential plans available to researchers. Help us expand the collection by donating your plans or lending them to us to be copied.