I was giddy with excitement when I found out about VIB’s birthday (you have to admit that’s pretty cool, to find on the day of, that it is in fact that day!). It turns out that tax records, which are cited for house building date at time of sale, are often wrong.
And you wouldn’t believe how easy it is to find out when the original permit was issued (well at least if your house is inside the District). All you have to do is go to the Washingtoniana room on the third floor of the MLK Library in Penn Quarter, give your address to one of the librarians and they will pull the information– square, lot, and permit number, date, builder, architect, and owner. You can also look up the original application to build and permits on microfiche.
VIB builder/owner was Ray E. Middaugh, architect: Thos. M Haislip. The original permits carry more information, such as type of heating — our house had latrobes. (upd: thanks crin, for sending this very informative article on latrobe stoves — now if i see one, i just may have to purchase it :)
My originals included a note at the end indicating that more permits are located at the National Archives in College Park, MD, so I will be making a trip. There are also a ton of different ways to research owners and occupants of a house, which I think would be awesome to know about, especially living in a 100+ year old house in a city like D.C.
For those of you who may be curious to find out more about your house history, I would definitely suggest looking into the Humanities Council. I am trying to get a handout that was passed out at the Symposium, and if I do, I will definitely post it. In the meantime, they also promised a video of the Symposium on their youtube channel, so that should be also very helpful. Brian Kraft, who did the workshop on putting together the house history — and amazingly digitized the DC Building Permits Database — also offers these seminars through the Washingtoniana on the regular basis.
Also, check out this WaPo article and these guys can do your house history, although that will cost you some $$$.