When it comes to historical information on homes, you may wonder how we do it. Well, we’re smart. But we also do a lot of research.
We love it when someone challenges us on historical information. Not because we are infallible, although we generally do get it right. It’s more because, when we get it wrong we all learn, don’t we? There is always someone out there that knows a little piece of history one can only gain through intimate knowledge of a home. But like I said, we’re smart, and we generally get it right. So, what helped us get so smart? We’re going to let you in on our kind of secret stash of resources.
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Our main reference book is A Field Guide to American Houses, The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture by Virginia Savage McAlester. Virginia is our goddess of historical information. Unless you lived in a home, we are not going to believe you. We are going to believe Virginia, every, single, time, and so should you.
The Wall Street Journal’s review of this book said: “A near miracle of clarity… Here is a book that will be a landmark in its own right.” The New York Times noted, “Magisterial…The illustrated story of why our houses — great and humble and everything in between—look the way they do.” A splendid compendium.” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians regards the book as, “The best field guide to American residential architecture that has ever been published and likely to remain so for many years.” And we think it’s the essential reference book for anyone interested in the architectural history of American homes.
When we want to dig a little deeper into historical information on the Park Cities, there is nothing that beats another book Virginia McAlester, Willis Cecil Winters, and Prudence Mackintosh wrote, Great American Suburbs, The Homes of The Park Cities of Dallas. If you live in the Park Cities or sell real estate there, it needs to be in your library. It’s big, bold, beautiful, and filled with extraordinary photographs by Steve Clicque. It’s packed with information on the developers, architects, movers, and shakers that built the Park Cities, and it’s a fascinating walk through history.
When we need to do a deep dive, we turn to two resources, Preservation Dallas and The Dallas Morning News archives at the Dallas Public Library. Most of you know, Preservation Dallas is a treasure trove of historical information. Many Realtors take their two-day Historic House Specialist seminar. We highly recommend it. As a bonus, when you take the course, you receive a copy of A Field Guide to American Houses and a complimentary one-year Individual membership to Preservation Dallas. The staff are incredibly helpful and have often contributed to CandysDirt.com
You might be surprised that one of the best research tools for historical information in our city is always the Dallas Public Library. Warning, once you jump into this plethora of history, hours may pass before you come up for air! It’s the beget syndrome. Once you put an address into the Dallas Morning News database on the library website, it’s only the beginning of the journey. You can’t help but move on to the owner, the owner’s children, and the owner’s company. You’ll find out who was born, engaged, married, and died in homes. It’s a fascinating trip through time and provides deep insight into the homes and homeowners of our fair city.
So, there you have it, our secrets are out!
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. Karen teaches the popular Staging to Sell class and is the creator of the online course, The Beginners Guide to Buying Wholesale. Her love of all dogs, international travel, good chocolate, great champagne, and historic homes knows no bounds. Her father was a spy, so she keeps secrets very well!