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Building Research

local historyTo find information about a building in Montclair (House, church, business, or any kind of building):

1. Check Montclair’s Historic Preservation Commission’s interactive map of Montclair Township’s Historic Inventory (map courtesy of the Department of Planning & Community Development). This web mapping application displays historic resources located within Montclair as identified in the Historic Preservation Element of the Township Master Plan, as adopted in May 1993. In addition, it shows properties that have been designated local landmarks and local landmark districts. The listings found in the Junior League Books (see below) are also discoverable.

2. Check the New York Times Historic Database and the Montclair Historic Image Database.

3. Schedule an appointment to view historic deed abstracts. The deed abstracts help trace the history of a property and its owners. MPL’s collection contains deed abstracts from the late 19th c. to the mid-20th c. You must know the historic map, block and lot of the property, which can be found in a cross-directory using the current block and lot numbers.If you do not know the current block and lot number, visit this webpage, fill in the Location field, then hit Submit Search. Official deeds are held at the Essex County Register’s Office in Newark.

4. Check the Junior League Books. These are officially called Montclair, 1694–1982: An Inventory of Historic, Cultural and Architectural Resources (Preservation Montclair, A Project of the Jr. League Montclair/Newark Inc., April 1982). Use the index in Volume I to locate the street and number of the building. Not all buildings were included. The listings include information such as:

  • Historic Name
  • Common Name
  • Location
  • Construction Date
  • Architect
  • Builder
  • Style
  • Form/plan Type
  • Number of Stories
  • Foundation
  • Exterior Wall Fabric
  • Fenestration (Windows)
  • Roof/chimneys
  • Photograph
  • Map
  • Siting, Boundary Description
  • Significance
  • Original Use
  • Present Use
  • Physical Condition
  • References

5. Check the historic maps. The library has maps that show property ownership and buildings, including 1871 and 1901 maps, 1906 Essex County Atlas, and 1933 Atlas of Montclair and surrounding towns.

6. Check the Subject Vertical Files for:

    • A-5  Architecture – Houses
    • B-4  Buildings
    • B-5.11  Business – Real Estate
    • G-  Government – Municipal – Town Planning Dept., Building Codes
    • G-  Government – Municipal – Town Planning Dept., Ordinances
    • G-  Government – Municipal – Town Planning Dept., Zoning
    • H-4  Historic Houses
    • H-4.1  Historic Houses – Colonial
    • H-4.2  Historic Houses – 19th Century
    • H-4.3  Historic Houses – 20th Century
    • H-5  Historic Preservation
    • H-9.1  Housing – Rent
    • M-1.1  Maps – 18th-19th Century
    • M-1.2  Maps – 20th Century
    • S-7  Street Names

7. Check the Biography Vertical Files. If you find the name of a homeowner or architect that you would like to know more about, request to view any biography files the library may hold.

8. Check the city directories.

From 1920 there is an index by street address. Most of these directories have been digitized and made available via, within their U.S. City Directories 1822-1995 database. Please note, is available for in-library use only, through either the public internet computers or the library’s WiFi.

9. Check the tax records. Tax maps (1900-1967), and tax and field books (1878-2010) are located in the first aisle of nonfiction on the second floor. Depending upon year, the entry will include:

  • Name of Owner
  • Street Number
  • Location and Description
  • Map Number
  • Block
  • Lot Number
  • Area
  • Houses
  • Out Buildings
  • Value Land
  • Value Buildings
  • Value Out Buildings
  • Value Real Estate
  • Value Personal
  • Household Exempt
  • Soldiers Exempt
  • Total Valuation
  • Poll
  • Total Tax
  • First Payment
  • Second Payment

It is helpful to know the property’s block and lot number during for the year you want to view. We have a guide to convert the current block and lot number into the historic block and lot number. If you do not know the current block and lot number, visit this webpage, fill in the Location field, then hit Submit Search.

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