Today’s post is a bit different than our typical Washington, DC history tidbit or history mystery, but it is still related to house history: rather directly as it turns out. A large box arrived on Saturday from the State of Washington, and in it was something I’ve been anticipating for a while now, after meeting Mike and Dan Hiestand from Houstory.
We found each other via my Twitter and their Twitter, and then met live following a conference and exhibit they were represented at in Philadelphia – when is the last time you met a Twitter follower in person?!
We had much in common beyond the love of old houses. After a tour of my own 1906 historic house, we sat down and talked about their exciting new business at House History Book or 'Houstory.' These fellas had done their homework and really investigated how to do it right – with the results being a fascinating large book in which to maintain and preserve a history of a house: a Home History Book.
I can’t tell you how many of my clients take the history of their house (which we produce in a booklet format) along with them when the house is sold…prompting the new owners to contact me for a history that we’ve already completed (we tell them of course). The Houstory book is meant to convey with the property, and I must say that its both a fantastic and creative idea, and I suspect it will become very popular.
My own book arrived in a beautiful black box which is of archival quality for storage of pictures and documents associated with your house. It is embossed with their copyrighted logo…inside was a felt slip tied with a bow, and inside that was the book itself: about three inches thick, embossed with a front door design, handcrafted in the USA with faux leather and our address engraved in a brass plaque. Now that is impressive indeed! I loved it.
But it is much more than a book, and browsing inside is where you realize Mike and Dan have done their homework. Pages are all acid free and there is a variety of page backgrounds you can choose from with screened backgrounds…as well as different cover colors to choose from. The opening pages have places to place the earliest known photograph of your house, and other pages have areas for family information, guests, renovations, and just about anything you might want to leavefor future generations to enjoy.
Some pages are perforated so you can remove them when you’ve added photographs so as to not expand the binding with the added bulk. You can really add whatever you want to convey your own story, or what you have done to the house itself. As an architectural historian, its most difficult to find out the last 30 years of history on any given house, simply because that information often never makes it into the archives.
What to include? Think of what you would want to know about the owners of your house 100 years ago, they suggest, and I can’t agree more. You can also include history that you have researched yourself, or include the information revealed by hiring a historian like myself to include in your book.
Another fun aspect is that you can have your house guests sign in like a guestbook in a bed and breakfast. Imagine if you could read a list of everyone that has stayed in your house over time: you’re beginning that tradition.
Each book comes with a stand to display upright, and each has a registration number unique to the book.
Its just a great book to record all those stories of what you have done to the house, or what you gleaned from the previous owner or old neighbor: write them down before you forget the names, dates, or items you want to include. I’ve begun to use ours immediately: do yourself a favor, and get one for your house as well.
April 19th Update: And, I can now pass along a coupon from Housestory for $75 coupon off your own book that appeared in their latest newsletter!