Local History

Researching a House or Building History

The History of a House or a Building: A Puzzle to be Solved!

The History of a House or Building: A Puzzle to be Solved!

When researching family and local history, a house or building can provide important context to details you discover in the larger quest.  Some structures are historic, some are new -- but they all tell a story that can shed light on personal, family or local history.  To uncover the parallel "genealogy" of a house or building, we suggest the resources below as tools for the search.

1. Historic Preservation Documents & Information

Historic Preservation Documents & Information

A key step in researching Albuquerque properties -- especially if located in historic neighborhoods like Huning-Highland or Old Town -- is to contact the City's Landmarks and Urban Conservation Commission. Call (505) 924-3891. The office may already have on folder established for the property, and will verify such by phone. The Special Collections Library has a duplicate set of property folders for Huning-Highland in its vertical files. 

Historic Preservation Resources on the Planning Department website provide additional information on Albuquerque's development as well as contact information for groups committed to historic preservation.

2. City Directories

City Directories

City directories can be helpful in determining when a house was built, as well as the various occupants it's had over the years. Directories covering the Albuquerque area are available at Main Library and Special Collections, and provide coverage from the early 1900's through present.  You can search (in Hudspeth's and Polk) by occupant name, street address or telephone.

3. Sanborn Maps

Sanborn Maps

See the actual footprint of a property plus any resident buildings with Sanborn maps. Originally created as a tool for insurance assessment, Sanborn maps have become tremendously useful for historic preservation, urban planning and genealogy research. Enter your library card number and pin to browse Digital Sanborn Maps from home. Paper copies of Sanborn maps for 1924, 1931 and 1957 are available at Special Collections. The Genealogy Center has microfilm copies of revised maps for 1957, 1964, 1965 and 1970.  An overview and history of Sanborn Maps is available at the University of California, Berkeley, Library.

4. Albuquerque Progress Magazine

Albuquerque Progress

Albuquerque Progress magazine was published by Albuquerque National Bank and Trust from 1934 to 1965 and is a crucial information source about neighborhood, building and business histories. In addition to documenting building permits, new businesses, renovation and infrastructure projects (e.g., Route 66), the magazine published topical issues. Issues devoted to the state fair, winter sports, Boys Ranch, Albuquerque churches, and local industries and manufacturers provide a state-of-the-city snapshot for the era. The magazine’s black and white photos are often the best visual record we can locate of individual structures at the time they were first built.

The magazine is available at both Special Collections and the Genealogy Center.

5. City Building Permits

City Building Permits

The Genealogy Department at Main Library, and the Special Collections Library, can assist researchers in locating building permits issued in Albuquerque from 1913-1938.  Check with staff for more information.

Also available at Special Collections and Main Library Genealogy are Albuquerque Progress (originally published by Albuquerque National Bank), and New Mexico Progress (published by Sunwest Bank).  The second title is a continuation of the first. These annual business surveys reported not only on local economic trends -- but also included information on building permits, architects,builders and addresses for new business and civic construction.

6. Bernalillo County Offices

Bernalillo County Offices

To research tax payments made during the last ten years for a property within Bernalillo County, contact:

Bernalillo County Treasurer
One Civic Plaza NW 
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 468-7031

To research recordings and filings specific to a house or property (deeds, real estate contracts, mortgages) or maps and plats, use the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office online document search service or contact:

Bernalillo County Clerk's Office
One Civic Plaza NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 468-1290

7. Neighborhood Histories / Documents

Neighborhood Histories/Documents

The Vertical File (available for in-house use in the Genealogy area at Main Library) includes clippings and ephemera on a number of historic Albuquerque neighborhoods. Files are searchable through the online catalog, and feature materials on the Barelas, Downtown and Martineztown neighborhoods.

Books and monographic overviews of older city areas also are searchable through the online catalog, and include:

Huning Castle and Raynolds Addition Neighborhood Sector Development Plan  /  Municipal Development Dept.

Huning Highland Neighborhood Walking Tour & Armchair Guide / Mary P. Davis and Michael J. Rock 

Huning's Highland Addition Neighborhood Walking Tour & Armchair Guide / by Ann Carson 

Los Griegos Neighborhood Development Plan...

Martineztown/Santa Barbara:  An Historic Neighborhood Facing Urban Planning Issues

South Broadway Neighborhoods Sector Development Plan 1986 / City of Albuquerque, Planning Dept., Redevelopment Division

History of the Stronghurst Neighborhood / by Lester C. Harris

Trumbull Neighborhood Sector Development Plan / Municipal Planning Dept., Planning Division

University Neighborhoods History Handbook / by Chris Wilson

University Neighborhoods Sector Development Plan 1986 / City of Albuquerque, Planning Dept., Redevelopment Division

University Neighborhoods Area Sector Development Plan (1978) / City of Albuquerque, Planning Dept.

8. Neighborhood Associations

Neighborhood Associations

Office of Neighborhood Coordination - City of Albuquerque
This office serves as a liaison between neighborhood associations and City government -- and publishes a monthly newsletter, Neighborhood News, that facilitates news sharing between neighborhoods and local government.

Neighborhood Associations and District Coalitions - City of Albuquerque
Neighborhood Association maps, plus contact information, are provided on this site.

Materials on Building Histories

Library Resources

Buildings -- especially those in older areas -- can be researched in the Genealogy / Special Collections Vertical File.  The library system's online catalog provides a great overview of building topics covered by the file.  Search the catalog by keywords such as Albuquerque buildings, or historic buildings vertical file.

The keyword search for Albuquerque buildings will also locate books focusing on particular historic buildings and districts in the city.

General Books on House Histories

Helpful Websites

Helpful Websites