Posted by Joan Coogan on Friday, October 31st, 2014 at 7:01pm

Did you ever wonder who lived in your house before you, or maybe before the last owner or 5 or 10 owners before that?  Was it merely a house or was it a home?  Did they have many children, were they educated in a one-room school house or taught by a tutor at home?  Were they rich, poor?  Did they have servants?  Did they have a farm, horses, chickens, cows?  What kind of "real estate" was trendy and sought after in those days of yore?

I own a home on the North Shore of Staten Island where three generations of my own family have lived, died, been born, had Thanksgiving dinners, opened gifts under the Christmas tree, laughed, cried--all in these very rooms.  The fourth generation was born and a sibling on the way, and I cannot wait to share the knowledge of their great grandparents and the history they are a part of. 

A few years ago, Staten Island's 350th birthday was celebrated and yes, I do know first hand what it is like to have history. 

I was always interested in discovering the true age of my home. Rumor has it that there was a fire in Borough Hall in the 1920’s and all the records were destroyed.  Thus, when I list a home that may be in the North Shore or any older sections of the Island, the year built is usually noted as “1928”, whether it is or not.  A number of years ago, my son and I trekked down to the Hall of Records and inquired as to how we might trace the history of our home.  We were handed a huge book, a Liber, where the deed was recorded noting a page number.  We were on the right track--my family name was written and the deed recorded in 1949.  We closed that book and found the previous deed recording the next and ten others until a key to a terribly dirty, dusty room in Borough Hall was handed to us.  The book that ended our search was Liber 29, page 344, noting that our home was sold to George Underhill from John & Frances Muniford and recorded 3/13/1853.  They showed a previous owner, but no prior Libers could be found.  

Who were the Griswolds, the Frelinghuysens, the Kings, Silas and Arabella Havens in the 1800’s who probably read by candles or gas lights?  Are their spirits watching me as I read by energy efficient light bulbs today?  I have read stories about these families and have been fascinated that I somehow share a part of the history of Staten Island.

In this age of technology, many historical records have been computerized and almost anything can be traced--genealogy, property, marriage, divorce--from the comfort of your home. 

Some people like newly constructed homes, some people like homes with history.  I am one of those people. 

If you are looking for a Real Estate Broker who can help you find a house with a “past”, look no further.  Call me at 646-258-9696, leave a comment below or write me at joan.coogan@gmail.com

Joan Coogan

Associate Real Estate Broker

Gillani Homes

646-258-9696 – cell



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