Genealogy of a House

Sources for Researching the History of Your House:

North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (HPO):

These HPO sources can help you determine whether your house has previously been identified, photographed, and described in an architectural survey, included in an architectural survey publication, or located within a National Register historic district. See next page for information about accessing original survey files.

Books on North Carolina Architecture and County and Municipal Architectural Survey Publications: Bibliography

Purchasing information is indicated when known. Many are out of print, but some may be available in local libraries, by interlibrary loan, or through used book dealers. A complete collection can be found in the HPO staff library.

National Register of Historic Places Listings in North Carolina: by county, with links to nomination PDFs and map locations in HPOWEB: NC Listings in the National Register

There are over 2,800 NR listings, of which about 550 are historic districts together encompassing tens of thousands of properties. Nomination PDFs are searchable. 

HPOWEB: Online GIS service mapping 70,000 buildings, districts, and features in the statewide historic property survey:

The North Carolina Survey Status Report provides a detailed account of historic property survey projects since the early 1970s: 

Digital NC: North Carolina City Directories Online: You have the option to download a PDF of the entire directory and search offline). Digital NC also has online collections of newspapers and college yearbooks.

Deeds and Real Estate Records Online:

Historic Maps Online:

  • North Carolina Maps: . Sanborn Insurance Maps through 1922 are available free on this site. Click the Sanborn Maps tab.
  • Sanborn Maps North Carolina (, a product of ProQuest, is the most complete set of North Carolina Sanborn maps available online and includes maps after 1922. This subscription site is available in libraries throughout North Carolina through NC LIVE. Ask your local library for information about accessing this site.
  • Later Sanborn maps are also accessible (for a fee) from Environmental Data Services: .
  • Going to the Show ( a project documenting the experience of moviegoing in North Carolina in the early 20th century, contains images of over 750 Sanborn map sheets. These map images have been stitched together and georeferenced, enabling users to compare them with maps from other years, and with recent street maps and satellite images.

Other Sources:

Books Available from and other online sources:

- House Histories: A Guide to Tracing the Genealogy of Your Home, by Sally Light, Golden Hill Press 1989. 

- Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood, by Betsy J. Green, Santa Monica Press, 2002.

National Park Service Preservation Briefs:

Understanding Old Buildings: The Process of Architectural Investigation. Preservation Brief 35.

Historic Property Survey Files:

Original Historic Property Survey Files from field surveys sponsored by the State Historic Preservation Office since the early 1970s typically contain photo proof sheets, field notes and sketches, and interview notes; some have typewritten summary descriptions, research notes, correspondence, and other materials.

Files for counties in the central and eastern regions are curated in room G33 of the basement of the Archives/State Library Building, 109 E. Jones Street, Raleigh, and may be examined by appointment only 9-5 Tuesday through Friday. For an appointment, contact Chandrea Burch,, 919-807-7286.

Files for the 25 western counties are located at the Western Office of Archives and History, 176 Riceville Road, Asheville NC 28805. For an appointment, contact Annie McDonald,, 828- 296-7230 x 223. A map showing the three service regions of the Survey and National Register Branch is below; it may also be viewed online at