1. If you have the title to your house, it provides the following information: document number, township and subdivision, block and lot number, and location within a specific lot. If you don’t have the title to your house, it can be purchased from a title company. Some research can be done without the title (see below).
2. With information from the title record, go to the Recorder of Deeds, County Court House, 18 N. County Street, Waukegan, Illinois 60085 (847/360-6673), to check the land conveyances (records of the times the property has changed ownership) and the early title statements. You can trace the ownership of your home by checking the Grantee (purchaser) and Grantor (seller) indexes. Start with your own name in the grantee index. When you find the name of the grantor, search that name in the grantee index, and so forth.
3. Using the conveyances, you can check the deed numbers and look up each deed.
4. Tax records are available in the office of the County Treasurer, County Court House, 18 N. County Street, Waukegan, Illinois 60085 (847/360-6363). These records date from 1906.
5. The township office maintains a list, by address, of all lots. Their records were complied from information gathered in 1958 and may include a list of owners, age of the house, lot size, a physical description of the home (stories, fireplaces, basement, etc.), and a drawing of the house footprint (with square footage). They list the purchase price of the property for each sale as well as any building permits. The township office has photographs (some as early as 1958) of some homes. Your voter registration card identifies your township. The address for the Moraine Township office is 777 Central Ave., Highland Park, Illinois 60035 (847/432-2100).
6. Assessment rolls for Moraine (Deerfield) Township were published in local newspapers. The Highland Park Public Library has microfilm copies of various local newspapers. Complete assessment rolls were published in the Sheridan Road News-Letter, July 8, 1899 and July 6, 1900, and the Highland Park Press on July 8, 1915, July 10, 1919, and August 24, 1939. For other years only properties whose valuation had changed during the year are listed.
7. The Highland Park Building Department, 1150 Half Day Road (847/432-0808) contains files, arranged by address, for houses in Highland Park. These files date from the 1920s. Records can include name of original owner, architect or general contractor, date built, additions, remodeling or any work that required a building permit. Highland Park streets were renumbered in October 1950, so if your house was built before that date, Building Dept. records also provide the original street number.
8. Atlases and plat maps may provide more information on previous owners of the property. Ask for these at the Register of Deeds office. The Waukegan Historical Society (847/336-1859) has plat maps dating from 1861. Highland Park Public Library, 494 Laurel Ave. (847/432-0216) has Lake County atlases for 1885, 1896, and 1907. The 1907 atlas shows lot and block numbers. Due to their fragile condition, these atlases are available by appointment only. Contact Julia Johnas at the library (ext. 110).
9. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are available on microfilm at the Highland Park Public Library. These maps show the building footprint, number of stories, type of materials and construction of dwellings. They also show other buildings located on the property (sheds, stables, garages, etc.). The maps indicate the width and names of streets, property boundaries, building use, and house, lot, and block numbers. The Library has maps for 1900, 1907, 1912, 1918, 1924, and 1933.
10. The Highland Park Historical Society, 326 Central Ave. (847/432-7090) has information on some homes in Highland Park. They can also put you in touch with local historians.
11. Local realtors may have information about your house.
12. Talk with neighbors who have lived in the area for several years. They may have information about your home’s previous owners.
13. The Highland Park Public Library has city directories for Highland Park for 1919, 1922, and 1951. These show who was living at your address in those years. The 1919 and 1922 directories are arranged by name, not street address. Remember to search by the original street number of your house in pre-1950 directories. The city directories usually provide the name of the occupant, spouse, occupation, and telephone number. In some cases, they also provide a business address for the occupant. The Library also has telephone directories on microfilm starting from the 1920s. You can follow the names of previous owners through the telephone directories to determine how long they lived at your home.
14. Once you have the names of previous owners, you can search through biographical sources and local history titles at the Historical Society and Highland Park Public Library. The Highland Park Public Library also has indexes to the local newspapers for 1874 –1970s and 1990-, and obituary indexes from 1874 to the present.
15. Portions of Highland Park were included in architectural resources surveys. The surveys identify style, date of construction, architect or builder when known, architectural features, and alterations. You may contact the City of Highland Park Dept. of Community Development, Planning Division (847/432-0867) to determine if your home was included in a survey.
16. For details on the architectural style of your house, check A Field Guide to American Houses (Virginia & Lee McAlester, c1984) or other books that illustrate house styles. Highland Park: American Suburb at Its Best (c1982) and Highland Park by Foot or Frame: an Architectural and Historical Odyssey (c1980) provide architectural information for some homes in Highland Park.
17. If a well-known architect designed your house, research him/her in architectural resources at libraries or historical societies. The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries of the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60603-6110 (312/443-5666) have extensive files on architects. In order to visit this library directly, you must be a member of the Art Institute or present an InfoPass. You can get an InfoPass from the reference librarians at the Highland Park Public Library.
18. Visit the Highland Park Public Library for assistance on any aspect of your research. The reference librarians will help you locate the materials listed above. Contact Julia Johnas for research assistance and additional library resources.
19. Keep records of improvements and changes that you make to your house. Take photographs of your house and landscaping. We encourage you to share the results of your research with the Highland Park Historical Society and the Highland Park Public Library.
When visiting any government office or agency, please telephone in advance. Appointments may be required. Access to some documents may be restricted or may require retrieval or research assistance by an employee of that office. In some cases, you may be required to file a Freedom of Information Act request to view documents.
Updated June 2003
This page is maintained by staff of the Highland Park Public Library, 494 Laurel Avenue, Highland Park, IL 60035, (847) 432-0216, TDD (847) 432-7674. Please e-mail comments or corrections to email@example.com
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The Library's Your Highland Park Home: A Research Guide web page has been selected as a Best Practice in the field of Community Information Systems by the Community Connector website, a University of Michigan-based resource for community-serving organizations, funders, academics, and students who are using technology to enhance geographic communities. The Community Connector highlights innovative websites that can serve as models and resources for others working in the field of community information. (11/99)