Researching Your Old Anacortes House
Step 1: Go to the Skagit County Assessor’s website at www.skagitcounty.net. Click on records search. Click on Assessor’s office and site address. Fill in the address you wish to research and then note the Parcel, Block, and Lot(s) numbers.
- Example: P12345, Block 78, lots 1 and 2
Step 2: Go to the Land Title Company of Skagit County, 111 E. George Hopper Rd, Burlington, WA or call (360) 707-2158 and ask for the Anacortes Plat book. Most of the houses in Old Town are located in the original plat of Anacortes. The staff at Land Title is very helpful.
- Using the Block number, locate the pages in the Plat book for your block. The Block numbers are in the upper right corner.
- Go down the page looking for lot numbers. Note all the data, including the column that lists volume and page or the file number (this refers to the Skagit Country Auditor’s records) for each line with your lot number(s).
- Sample entry: John P. Hoyt & hw [his wife] Lettie [to] James A. Smith; 1/2/1891 [date of recording]; WD [type of deed, in this case a warranty deed]; 9 &10 [lot numbers] vol 10, p.25 [volume and page number of the auditor’s records]
- Sometimes, instead of volume and page, you will see a file number. Note this file number.
- If you prefer, you can hire a local title company to do this portion of your research. Cost: approximately $100.
Step 3: Armed with a list of owners’ names over the years and the volume and page numbers of the sales records (or file number), you can then go to the Recording Department of the Auditor’s office at 2nd and Kincaid in Mount Vernon, and request to look at the microfilmed deeds relating to your property number. Your search will be simplified if you have the volume and page number of the deed. For a small fee, you can obtain photocopies of the deeds you find. The Auditor’s clerks will also do your research for a fee.
Step 4: This step is optional, but it will give you more complete data. Go to the Assessor’s office in Mount Vernon and ask to see the 1973 “Blue Books.” These books contain data from 1973 including a photo of the building and a drawing that includes the exterior dimensions.
Step 5: Check Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, which are available at the Anacortes Museum and the Skagit County Historical Museum in La Conner. These maps, done for the Sanborn Insurance Company in the early part of the 20th century, are very detailed and show the location of buildings.
Step 6: City Directories. The Anacortes Museum has a number of city directories, including some Polk Directories for Skagit County, which are a very useful research aid. Once you have a name and date associated with your property, you can use a directory to gather additional information about the owner, including his/her occupation, where they worked, whether they owned the home or were boarders (residents) and the date of their affiliation with a particular address.
Sample entries from Polk directories:
Mattice, Wallace J. - asst cashr Citizen's Bank (Georgia M) h 10th nr L
Brinck, Chas J. (Desire) lab, AL&B Co, home 1219 10th.
h = home owner; r or b = a boarder or resident (not a home owner); a guide to abbreviations is usually located in the front of the directory.
The Anacortes Museum has Polk directories for 1902, 1905, 1911-12, 1917, 1921-22 and beyond. The State Archives on the Western Washington University campus in Bellingham has a Polk Directory for 1908. Skagit County Historical Museum also has some Polk directories, but you will need to call for an appointment ahead of time.
Step 7: Tax Documents: The tax rolls of Skagit County (Real Property Tax Rolls of Skagit County, State of Washington for the Year of ----) are located at the Archives in Bellingham. These are organized by block and lot number and show tax information for any given year. Often you can pinpoint the date your house was built if a sudden jump in value occurs.
Step 8: Filling in the gaps: For those who wish to do further research, there are a number of additional resources located at the Anacortes Museum and at the State Archives in Bellingham. For example, cemetery records located at the Museum usually provide an individual’s date of death and sometimes date of birth and other information. The Museum also maintains files on a number of early residents so you can gather additional information on an owner’s life. Other interesting resources include census, marriage, and birth records, as well as the Social Security Death Index for Washington that are available on-line at the Digital Archives. Family Search is another free, on-line source of this kind of information.
Questions? Contact the Anacortes Museum at 293-1915.