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Research Your Shaker Home

 

Local History media

Although homes in the city of Shaker Heights represent several eras and architectural styles, from century farmhouses to LEED-certified structures, most houses were built under the supervision of the Van Sweringen Company after they designed and marketed Shaker Heights as a planned community in the early 1900s. 

The Van Sweringens required property owners to build according to strict architectural guidelines, and favored conservative English, French, and Colonial designs. House styles east of Warrensville Center Road reflected less stringent 1930s and 1940s preferences, including lower rooflines, larger yards, and more prominently placed garages.

We offer numerous tools and tips to help you research the history of your Shaker Heights home, no matter what style and time period it represents.  Click on the sections below to learn about resources located in the Local History Collection, online, and at partner institutions.

Plat Map Books: Property Transfers

Our plat map books contain names, dates, and/or purchase amounts for property purchases in Shaker Heights from the 1920s to the 1990s.

For property transfers after 1974, see how to access the County property search in Research Online, below.

Microfilmed Building Plans and Blueprints

The Shaker Library Local History Collection has over 100 rolls of microfilm on which the City of Shaker Heights filmed building plans and blueprints before the original plans were destroyed. Blueprints for buildings built before 1945 were not microfilmed and original blueprints were not retained by the City of Shaker Heights.

Visit Shaker Heights Blueprints for more information on whether your house plans are available on microfilm and how to obtain copies if so.

Connect to Local History to access any of these resources.

Shaker Buildings Database

Look up your Shaker Heights home’s historic information, including the date it was built, the name of your architect, and more. Your home’s record in the Shaker Buildings Database will show whether there are building plans on microfilm for your home. Please visit Shaker Heights Blueprints to learn more about locating your building plans.

Property Transfers and Deeds

Search for property transfer information from the present back to the beginning of 1975, and property deeds  in some cases as far back as the founding of the Village of Shaker Heights.

Property Transfers

Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer’s Real Property Search.  Input an address, last name, or permanent parcel number in the search boxes, select the results, and then click on the ‘Transfer History’ tab to see property transfers back to the beginning of 1975.

For property transfers before 1975, see how to access the plat map books in Research in the Local History Collection, above.

Property Deeds

Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer’s Recorded Documents Search. Select ‘General Deed Search.’ Plug in the full name of a previous owner and the appropriate date range to find PDFs of deeds involving that owner.

Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer’s Parcel Deed Search.  Input your property’s eight-digit permanent parcel number to see all available deeds for your home.

The permanent parcel number can be found in the Shaker Buildings Database or in the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer’s Real Property Search.

Architects

Identify your architect using the Shaker Buildings Database. Search the following resources to locate biographical information and lists of building projects of your architect:

  • Architectural walking tours on prominent architects and architectural styles in Shaker Heights, produced by the Shaker Heights Landmark Commission, 1982-2005.

Further Research and Resources:

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Input city name ‘Cleveland,’ then select ‘All Date Ranges’ and filter by ‘Street Address.’ Plug in your street name to see maps.

The City of Shaker Heights

The Shaker Historical Society

The Shaker Historical Society’s library contains maps, manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts, and its museum displays permanent and rotating exhibits on the Van Sweringens and the development of Shaker Heights.

The Cuyahoga County Archives

County Property Card Collection. Contains information from the County Auditor’s 1930s and 1960s surveys of all taxed properties in the county. The survey cards originally included small photographs of the building; many of these have since separated from the cards. Typically the information on hand includes a physical description, dimensions, construction details, and assessed value of the home.

The Cleveland Public Library Special Collections Department

Collections of house plans by specific prominent architects, including the architectural firm Howell & Thomas, who were active in Shaker Heights.