Did You Know?

Cement Ship

Remnants of the "S.S. Palo Alto." The 435-foot ship was built of concrete by the San Francisco Shipbuilding Co. just after the end of World War I. Originally designed as a tanker, it was part of a wartime effort to reduce the use of steel and iron. The S.S. Palo ... [More]

Browse and search more fun and useful facts from the SCPL Reference Files!

Subject Guides


Researching Your House's History     Printable PDF Version

This is a brief guide to researching property in Santa Cruz County. Property research can vary from finding the year the house was built, to constructing a complete chain of title for a property, complete with biographical information about the owners. Before beginning your research, it is a good idea to outline your research objectives.

Building A Chain of Title

The chain of title is the list of owners of a property. To build the chain of title, you would start with the current owner. From who did the current owner buy the property and when? Be sure to make copies of the deed and records you use to build your chain of title.

Last updated April 1, 2010 by SH

Chain of Title Research at the County Building

The Santa Cruz County Government Building is located at 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

The Assessor's Office can provide the APN and a limited parcel history. Building records (with a signed release form from the owner) can be viewed here.

The Recorder's Office provides the deeds and records you will need to build your chain of title.

Last updated June 30, 2010 by SH

Books to Help You Research Your House's History

Last updated June 29, 2010 by SH

Periodicals to Help Your Research Your House's History

In addition to the periodicals blow, the Santa Cruz Public Library has created the Newspaper Clipping File, available here on the library website. This database contains more than 50,000 articles of local interest. They are indexed and are kept at the Downtown Branch for viewing. Particular files of interest may include the Historic Houses file.

  • Haines Criss Cross Directory Haines Criss Cross Directory
    by Haines & Co.,

    These directories are arranged by address and phone number. Santa Cruz Public Library has some years between 1977 and 2007.

  • Mountain Echo Mountain Echo
    by Mountain Echo,

    This newspaper was published in Boulder Creek and is indexed from October 24, 1896 to December 23, 1916. It is available on microfilm at the Downtown and Boulder Creek branches.

  • Polk's Santa Cruz Directory Polk's Santa Cruz Directory
    by Polk & Co., R.L.

    These directories are arranged by address and phone number. Santa Cruz Public Library has most years between 1910 and 1988.

  • Santa Cruz Sentinel Santa Cruz Sentinel
    by Sentinel Pub. Co.,

    The Sentinel is indexed from 1856 to 1956. It is available on microfilm at the Downtown Branch.

Last updated Oct. 27, 2011 by JT

Websites to Help You Research Your House's History

  • Santa Cruz County History - Architecture
    This local history page has information about bridges, buildings, landmarks, and wharves in Santa Cruz County. Of particular interest to those researching architecture in Santa Cruz will be the articles, "Santa Cruz's Architectural Heritage," which includes a sketchbook of architectural styles in Santa Cruz.

Last updated July 7, 2010 by SH