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Research Your House

The Rainier Valley Historical Society has photographs of many historic homes and buildings in the Rainier Valley, particularly in and around Columbia City. We also have information about the general history of the neighborhood, which may also be helpful to you.

Another place to look for historic photographs of your house is the Puget Sound Regional Archives, located at Bellevue Community College. Look under "King County Property Records," find your tax parcel # (it's all right there on the site), and e-mail or call them to see what they've got. They should have a photo of the house from 1937 (a county-wide photo survey was done that year by the WPA), plus information about when the house was built, etc. The archivists there can point you to more resources if you want to keep going.

The Seattle Polk Directories are also helpful. A complete set of these directories  —  essentially the phone book, but they go back way before phones  —  is available at the Seattle Public Library's downtown site, and at the Seattle Municipal Archives. Many of these volumes also have reverse directories, so you can look up an address and find out what was there in any given year. The Seattle Municipal Archives also has a searchable online database of photographs, but they tend to focus on engineering projects and not residential buildings.

If you are interested in restoring your old house, Historic Seattle has wonderful resources for researching architectural history and finding historically accurate building supplies and fixtures.

List of Resources


Need help with your project?

RVHS is here to help! Schedule an appointment with our collections team or email your questions to

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