Message - Re: 1945 Art Deco Concrete House

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Posted by  Jim on August 11, 2003 at 07:15:22:

In Reply to:  1945 Art Deco Concrete House posted by Wes and Mary Ann Waters on August 10, 2003 at 13:10:36:

The Portland Concrete Assoc. no doubt made more than one copy of that book, so phone the Library of Congress' catalog desk ( and ask them for their Call Number for the book (since they are the copyright repositroy of the USA, it is likely that they have a copy), then take that number with the title to the librarian at your nearest public or college library and they will have the book sent to them from the LOC for you to use -- perhaps photocopy. If the LOC does not list it (or many similar subject titles), ask your library to find out where the Assoc. was in 1945 and then you phone all the libraries in that area (again, your local library can find that information for you) and ask them to search their collections for such documents. Often groups going out of business (or just growing out of storage space) will donate their documents en masse to such libraries, where they may or may not be cataloged. It takes peseverence on your part. Once you learn the name of the architect, go to the site of the Society of American Archivists ( and inquire of archives around the nation that may have materials relating to them. Likewise, the Society of American Architects may know of the last location of the firm, and obituaries or other notices about them may be in local papers there. These often lead to the names of their descendants, who often retain the cream of thier architect forebears' documents and photos. That was how the Wis. Architectural Archive got started. I imagine that you have already gone to the Register of Deeds' office (usually at the county seat) and looked through thier records, usually filed by the legal description of your land which should be found in your Title Abstract (you did keep a copy of it, didn't you?!!) Any local Land Title Search firm may well have records of yours' or neighboring tracts of land, and if the architects/developer did more than one job, you may find their name as part of a subdivision, thus you get a name to work with. Previous deeds/conveyances and other documents are often squirreled away there and may yeild valuable information in some most unlikely places. Have you contacted the the "morgue" (clippins/photo files) of local newspapers? There may have been some newsworthy event that happed in or near the house, and they may still have a record of it. Also, back in 1945 the architect/developer/realtor may have placed an add for the house or its subdivision in the Real Estate pages. There may even be a photo of your house there!

A search on and other search engines will likely yield more on concrete houses. Also, your state capitol likely has an office of Historic Preservation and they often have references as well as records of notable construction in the state, or know where to refer you; you will always get more cooperaton via a personal visit rather than a mere phone call. Look at building/construction/architecture magazines circa 1945 for articles on concrete construction which might mention your style of home, if not also the actual residence and architect who built it. Your township building may have been flooded, but it is still possible that the governing municipality kept duplicate records at the county seat or elsewhere (in my city, copies of all such are on microfilm locally as well as in a salt mine storage facility in Nevada) so possibly they can retrieve at least the building permits for you. One should also contact local, regional and state historical societies, since it is surprising what they often have, and similar college, public and private libraries are often the unoficial repositories of local bequests of homestead and architectural records. Is there an Architectural Archive in the region? You have to try to find a cooperative or interested clerk in these places whom you can persuade to go the extra mile in doing a little research, since just looking in the Register or Card Catalog often does not find what you are looking for. Be sure to ask if they have any 'un-processed' collections since often these have a gold mine of materials. Could you volunteer to sort such a collection for them? For example, the LOC has a room full of 30,000 commercial trade catalogs not indexed for lack of funds for a cataloger, so the collection is largely useless and unknown except by reputation. Best Wishes.

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