This page answers one of the questions we get most: How do I find out about the history of my house, when it was built, who lived there, and when?

Dorrance_house_plaqueSome are just curious, and others want to see if they can qualify for one of those classy historic plaques you see displayed on some homes in town.

Frequent contributor Patricia Smith Solin is a Riverton homeowner who has been down this road before in search of such information both for herself and for others. She distilled some lessons she learned in a slideshow she presented at a February 2016 meeting of the Society. Six years later she has updated that work to present this May 2022 revision.

Click here for the 3.83MB PDF slideshow and click here for the accompanying notes.

In it, Pat walks you through the process and illustrates the use of basic research techniques and local resources using her own experience with researching her home’s pedigree.

Within the tutorial are links to online sources for several historical maps, historical newspapers, a search of public records, and other such aids certain to be of specific help in revealing the history and ancestors of your Riverton home.

As a kind of “Cliff’s Notes” companion to the slide presentation, this printable handout poses questions to guide you through the steps outlined by Mrs. Solin in finding the roots of your house.

A source of community pride was the certification by the National Park Service in 1999, of Riverton’s Historic District, containing 526 structures. Your home might be listed in the 124-page application, which you can see here.

Bill McD and plaque (Copy)Here, at the 2015 Dan Campbell Preservation Awards Night, Bill McDermott shows the updated historical house plaque the HSR now offers to new applicants.

The digitally imprinted caption mimics the classic appearance of hand-applied painted lettering of the former design, yet the vendor claims this construction will better hold up to the elements than the former ones.

You will need to look at both of these if you wish to apply for a house plaque.
HSR Guidelines for Preparation of Historic Building Plaques 1-pg. PDF
HSR Historic Plaque Application 2-pg. PDF

If your old plaque is looking a bit under the weather, check with House Plaque Co-Chairs, Bill McDermott or Bill Brown, on how to get a replacement.

More Helpful Links:
A Guide to Researching the History of a House – Home Advisor
“How to Research Your Property,” The Burlington Watchman, Jan. 1990 1-pg. PDF
How to Research the History of a House, NJDEP, Historic Preservation Office, 2009 24-pg. PDF
Preparing your plaque application, BBH 2007 2-pg. PDF
Riverton’s 1999 National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

We thank Paul W. Schopp, Riverton Borough Historian, for vetting early versions of this work and for his expert advice.

If you have a question or need help, please use the contact form below. – JMc

How about a photo gallery of properties with plaques that might include a photo or two of the property, another of the plaque, and a short blurb – or a long one?