Depending on the house there may be a lot on information or very little. Researching Baird's Tavern or the Old Shingle House would be fairly easy. An old farm house in Edenville may have gotten a lot less attention.
When I am researching an old house, I prefer to think of it as an old home. I want to know who lived there over the years and what went on. An old house with a date construction is just not that interesting to me.
I have only done a few home histories, but in attempting to expand on the Donald Clark inventory of historic structures of Warwick Township, I am beginning to realize that the same process is necessary to date the house and the possible builder.
What follows is the process I use in documenting the history of a house(structure) in Warwick. I have numbered the various resource possibilities, but the order doesn't really matter. If you try this, good luck to you, and let me know how you did. If you find other resource possibilities that I didn't mention, please let me know.
1. If you are researching your our own property, then you know what you know. If you are like me and researching a property that you don't own, then my first step is to get in contact with the current owner(s). They may have some history and may or may not be interested in history of what they currently own. I think a good first step.
2. Check out the maps for Orange County. They go back to 1850. There is also a map created from an article written by Henry Pelton when he arrived here in 1805. These can be found by using the Google search engine on this site. Find the one that gives you the list of maps and where you can find them.
3. Then there is the deed search. This is done at Goshen, the county seat. One can take the current owner of a property and go back through time. I have done this a few times. One goes back deed to deed over time. The deed you are dealing with refers you to the previous deed, and the sometimes not. Then you are stuck and you have to go to the grantee-grantor book and work in a different direction. Keep in mind that deed searches will not give you information concerning structures on the property; they deal with land ownership. Goshen also has books on mortgages that I have not used, but I am told are useful.
4. When researching the family(s) that lived in an old home, we are getting into the field of genealogy. Doing a proper genealogy of a family can take years. When doing a history of a house, I don't have years to spend on family history. So I put together what I think went on with a big Warning. A good place to start with family history is www.rootsweb.com. Click on Family Trees and type in who are looking for. If you get a lot of hits, you can narrow it down at the bottom of the page. Be careful with the information because much of it has no citation.
5. There are three histories of Orange County: Eager 1846/47; Ruttenber and Clark, 1881; Headlely, 1908. You can find them at the Albert Wisner Library in Warwick, NY. Be sure to check them out.
6. Warwick has two local newspapers that go back to the 19th century. They are on microfilm at the Albert Wisner Library in Warwick, NY. There is no index as to what is contained there, so for the past few years, I have been going page by page through the old issues - mainly the Warwick Valley Dispatch. I have done transcriptions of articles that pertain to local history. A record of what I have done can be found on this blog.
The bottom line, if you are attempting to do a history of a home and the families that lived there, is that you have to use many resources. I approach it as a puzzle with many pieces. Once you get enough pieces, you can begin to put together a history.
Many of the transcriptions found here are now in published form. They have been published by the Orange County Genealogical Society (in Goshen, New York). Volume 3 includes my Volume 3 and Volume 5. Volume 4 includes my four parts of New Milford history. There is a planned Volume 5, which will include my Volumes 6, 7, and 8, Part 1, which is about 250 transcriptions. They can be purchase through the Genealogical Society. Just Google them and print out the order form. Or they can be purchased from the Warwick Historical Society. They are also on sale at the gift shop at Baird's Tavern. I would like to thank the Genealogical Society and Dan Burrows for their efforts. Started a new blog for images of Warwick. Go to: www.imagesofwarwicknewyork.blogspot.com.