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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 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).They are located in the Local History Room. Use the index in Volume I to locate the street and number of the building. If there is no listing for a building, then the Junior League Books do not have information on that building. The listings usually 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

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

4. Check the tax records. Tax maps (1900-1967) and tax books are located in the first aisle of nonfiction on the second floor. To find a building in the tax records, first select the tax map for the year you want. Some of the tax map books have a map of all of Montclair in the front of the book. If the map book has a map in the front, you can determine which map page has the property you want. If the map book does not have this map, then you will need to look page by page to locate your building.Turn to that page and then locate the building in which you are interested. Record the map, block, and lot. E.G. 44 G 15. Select the appropriate tax duplicate book and find the entry for the property you recorded from the tax map. Depending upon year the entry will have information:

    • 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 that time period. There is a guide in our Local History Collection that you can use 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.

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:

    • Apartment Houses
    • Architecture (Houses)
    • Buildings
    • Government—Municipal-Departments—Town Planning Department—Building Codes
    • Government—Municipal—Departments—Town Planning Department—Urban Renewal Project
    • Government—Municipal-Departments—Town Planning Department—Zoning
    • Historic Houses
    • Historic Preservation
    • Housing-Rent
    • Maps—18th–19th (Centuries)
    • Maps—20th (Century)
    • Monuments
    • Real Estate
    • Street Names architecture, buildings, historic houses etc.

7. Check the Biography Vertical File. 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 New York Times Historic Database and the Montclair Historic Image Database.

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