Closing at 6 pm November 26 and Closed November 27 and November 28

Back one level
Digital Collections

Tracing the History of a Home or Building

Are you curious about the history of your house? When was it built, and who was its builder? Who designed it? What did it look like when it was new? Has it been remodeled? Who lived or worked there? What events took place within its walls? Are there any ghosts? Has it retained enough of its original character to be considered for a local historic register and possible tax incentives for rehabilitation?

The search for answers to these questions may be challenging. Early building permits in Snohomish County have not been kept, and blueprints are not on file. If you are willing to do some research, you may be rewarded with some history about the structure.

What to Look For

  ▪ Photographs of the house and the people who lived there
  ▪ Architect or builder
  ▪ Architectural style
  ▪ Dates of construction and the years people lived or worked there
  ▪ Owners and residents
  ▪ Stories about neighborhoods, structures and the people associated with them.

Where to Look

The Everett Public Library Northwest Room is the best place to start for Everett properties. The staff can help search for information on county properties as well.

Some of the answers—architectural style, building materials and artifacts—will be found in the house itself. The building blueprints are to be had, they could turn up in the attic.) The building or house may have been remodeled, so you will need to look for modifications. Other information may be found in public records (plats, deeds, mortgages), photographs; newspaper articles; biographical and historical resources; neighbors and past residents.

Page Contents

Historic Register record Maps, Plats, Atlases City Directories
City & County Records Newspapers (usually on microfilm) Photographs
Architectural Resources - books & periodicals Biographical Resources Internet Resources &
Local Heritage Organizations

Historic Register Records

All properties and districts that have a local, state or national register status will have an accompanying nomination form that was originally filed upon application. These typically include history about the property, architectural information and a bibliography citing newspaper articles or other resources. The Everett Public Library has all official and unofficial historical surveys of Everett properties as well as basic information about National and State Register properties in Snohomish County. For historic register records in the County, contact the Snohomish County Historic Preservation & Cultural Resources Office.

For more specific help, contact local boards:

  ▪ Everett Historical Commission
  ▪ Snohomish [city] Historical Commission
  ▪ Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission
  ▪ Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission
  ▪ State Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation

Maps, Plats, Atlases

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Snohomish County towns show the footprints of buildings and houses and indicate building materials. While they cover only the incorporated areas at the time the map was drawn, some supplements and updates that extended the boundaries. Sanborns provide basic information about the structure. They can help prove "pre-existing" or "non-conforming" use because they predate 1955. This may be helpful if you want to remodel or rebuild an older garage or outbuilding. The Everett Public Library has physical and digital color copies of the 1914 and 1955 Everett Sanborn maps. The library also has microfilm copies of all Sanborns issued for Arlington, Edmonds, Everett, Gold Bar, Granite Falls, Index, Marysville, Monroe, Mukilteo, Silvana, Snohomish, Stanwood, Startup and Sultan.

The King County Library System and the Seattle Public Library provide online versions of the Sanborn maps for cardholders. (Everett Public Library cardholders are eligible for cards at both library systems.)

The historic editions of the Kroll & Metzger plat books and the 1910 Anderson Map Company Plat Book of Snohomish County. These are most helpful for areas outside of Everett. Details include property owners and, in the Andersons, may show building details. Many of the old editions are available at the Everett Public Library Northwest Room. The Snohomish County Courthouse Assessor's and Auditor's offices also have copies of these maps.

Original Plats showing property lines, dates, neighborhoods and property owners can be found through the Snohomish County Auditor's office.

City Directories

The Polks city directories were issued from 1893 to 1999. They provide an alphabetical listing of residents and businesses as well as listing by address for Everett properties. County communities were included in the early years; however, county addresses are often vague or nonexistent. The householders index—listing a property by address—started in 1932. Before that time, you can only search by occupant name. City directories document occupations, families, homeownership, phone numbers and other details. The Everett Public Library has copies of the city directories in print and on microfilm.

City & County Records

County Property Records

Tracking a deed—also called a chain of title or a title search—often reveals or verifies names of owners, transfer dates and clues to additions and purchase prices. Snohomish County Assessors records are searchable online.  Entering a property address will give you information about ownership, structural data, valuation and a "guess date" of when it was built. The build date is frequently incorrect, so it is best to confirm this information with other resources. At the Auditor's office, you can track the records back through the years, owner by owner, through deeds, mortgages, and land patents until you come to the origincal recording of the property. Call (425) 388-3411 ext. 2632 for details.

City Water Records

For Everett properties, Water Department records contain the earliest water hookup date, which usually indicates the year the structure was built, additions, roofs and water and sewer hookups. Properties can be searched by address. The person who requested the permit will most likely be the owner or builder. You can find these records at the City of Everett Public Services Office (3200 Cedar Street).  Call (425) 257-8810 for details. 

For other resources, check Historic Everett.


Newspapers can be a great resource. Everett Public Library has copies of the Everett Herald, Everett Morning Tribune, Monroe Monitor, Stanwood Tidings, Snohomish EYE and Northern Star.  Unfortunately indexing is limited and often non-existent. Computer indexing began for the Herald in 1992, and while an Everett Public Library library indexed the Herald from 1971 through 1991, articles are listed by subject and not easily searchable.

If the property is on the National Register, news items may be indicated in the application bibliography. If you know approximate dates, sometimes events such as a house moving, fires and remodeling may have made the news, especially in the small community newspapers.Washington State Library has a large collection of state newspapers, many of which have been digitized.


Pictures of street views, buildings, neighborhoods and residences may be available at the Everett Public Library Everett properties. Some of the local historical societies may have photograph collections. Often past residents, neighbors or people associated with a particular property will have old photos of the place as well.

Architectural Resources - books and periodicals

The Everett Public Library attempts to add all books printed on Snohomish County history. Even if you dont find information about your property or the people connected with it, these histories provide a context for your research. For instance, knowing the years that building booms happened or that economic hard times occurred may shed light on why the property youre researching was built or remodeled when it was, or why it became a rental, etc. Books on architectural styles and historic design plans are also available.


A Survey of Everetts Historical Properties by David Dilgard and Margaret Riddle (1996).
Hands On! The Rehabilitation Handbook for Everetts Historic Homes. Everett Historical Commission and the Everett Planning Department (1992).
Renovating Old Houses by George Nash, Taunton Press, 1992.
Snohomish County Cultural Resource Inventory by Brent Lambert (1981).
Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood by Betsy J. Green (2002).
House Histories: A Guide to Tracing the Genealogy of Your Home by Sally Light (1989)
Small Houses of the Twenties : The Sears, Roebuck 1926 House Catalog, Dover (1991).
500 Small house of the twenties (also called Books of a thousand homes, vol. 1), Dover (1990).


Old House Journal
Old House Journal Interiors
American Bungalow

Biographical Resources

The Everett Public Librarys Northwest Room maintains a card file for many of Everetts older residences and biography files on prominent Snohomish County residents.

Vital statistics records give death dates that will allow you to search the newspapers for obituaries. This can give background information on the people who are linked to a property. Search in the Washington Digital Archives for birth, death and marriage dates or use Ancestry and HeritageQuest through the library to find this information.

Internet & Special Resources

The League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations  has links for those interested in historic preservation  and a list of museums and heritage groups in Snohomish County.

Some member organizations maintain collections that relate to the history of specific county communities. These may include photographs, written accounts, maps, artifacts and oral histories. Older members of each group are great resources, particularly for stories relating to a house or building history.

Historic Everett  sponsors and promotes historic preservation programs in Everett.



David Dilgard
History Specialist
2702 Hoyt Ave.
Everett, WA 98201
T: 425-257-8005
F: 425-257-8016


Lisa Labovitch
History Specialist
2702 Hoyt Ave.
Everett, WA 98201
T: 425-257-8005
F: 425-257-8016

Main Library

  • 2702 Hoyt
    Everett, WA 98201
  • Reference: 425-257-8000
  • Circulation: 425-257-8010

  • Hours
  • Monday-Wednesday: 10am-8pm
  • Thursday-Friday: 10am-6pm
  • Saturday: 10am-5pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-5pm

Evergreen Branch

  • 9512 Evergreen Way
    Everett, WA 98204
  • Reference: 425-257-8250
  • Circulation: 425-257-8260

  • Hours
  • Monday: 10am-6pm
  • Tuesday-Wednesday: 12pm-8pm
  • Thursday-Friday: 10am-6pm
  • Saturday: 10am-5pm
  • Sunday: Closed