Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ancestral Buildings

Jefferson Park Circle, Charlottesville, Virginia

Jefferson Park Circle, Charlottesville VA, circa 1932

    There used to be a site on the Internet about old houses (former family dwellings), but it has been taken down.  The hope of the owner was that people would post a photograph of a house, along with its address, a brief description of the building, and some information about who had lived there and when.  What a terrific idea!
    Unfortunately, many addresses had no accompanying picture, no description, and no house history.  Had contributors adhered to the guidelines, this site could have become a valuable resource for family historians who have no picture of an ancestor’s dwelling.
    Current images of extant dwellings are easy to find, thanks to Google, Bing, and others, but there is no history associated with them.  Realtors’ listings can be helpful, but they are random and temporary.  Land records will provide the names of buyers and sellers, with dates and a legal description of the property, but they will not include photographs and reveal interesting stories,  In any case, it’s the pictures of abodes that are no longer standing that family historians and genealogists are most eager to find.
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone created a new website so volunteers could contribute their photos of old dwellings with names, addresses, and dates of occupancy.  Pictures of other buildings of ancestral significance (churches, family-owned businesses, schools, etc.) could be included. To prevent useless contributions, as happened with the site mentioned above, it would have to have strict guidelines and be monitored closely.

    Won’t someone take on this project?

Photograph from Buffalogen's collection
Note:  On April 23, 2014, Google announced that its archives of past street views will be made available online (on Google Earth).  The views will go back to 2007, when Google first began its street views. Present-day
2686 Jefferson Park Circle is the only house that even remotely resembles the one pictured above.