Saturday, October 22, 2011

New History Database Has Many Stories to Tell

Have you ever passed by an old building and wondered about the history behind it? Ever thought, “Wow, if those walls could talk, what stories would they tell?” Most of our older structures do not have markers or monuments standing in front of them to place them in historical context for us. As part of its commitment to expanding local history education opportunities, Rochester Avon Historical Society has addressed this need in our area by developing and launching a brand new online database called Oakland Regional Historic Sites.

This new resource plots historic structures on a Google map, and also allows for searching by street address or property ID number. Clicking on a site pinned to the map, or clicking on a property ID in search results will open a history sheet that provides details such as who built a structure and when, its architectural features, changes made through the years, names of former occupants, references, and any historic designations the property may have received. A photo light box available on each property record includes a current view of the structure along with historic views, when available.

Currently, the Rochester Avon Historical Society, Rochester Historical Commission, and Rochester Hills Historic District Commission are collaborating to enter data for the project, but Rochester Avon Historical Society has designed the project with a regional focus in mind and is hopeful that other neighboring communities will be interested in joining the effort and listing their own historic properties in the database.

As of this writing, the new database contains only a portion of the many structures in Rochester and Rochester Hills that are eligible for inclusion. A structure must be at least 75 years old to be included, unless it is a memorial or monument, or is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, in which case it may be included even though it has not reached the age of 75 years. Members of the Rochester Avon Historical Society and its partner organizations are continuing to add records to the database, and the content will steadily increase and improve as time goes on.

This new resource is designed to answer questions for real estate professionals who might be looking for an historic property, civil engineers who need information on prior uses of a building or site, government and planning officials who rely on historical context to make sound decisions, members of the media who are seeking background information on a building or place in the community, and the just plain curious history buff who likes to know the story of the community around him. Whatever your personal interest is, I think you will enjoy browsing Oakland Regional Historic Sites. Click the link, give it a try and let me know what you think!

No comments:

Post a Comment