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How do I research land history?

Gareth McGrath

Depending on what kind of information you are looking for, the best place to start is probably your local register of deeds office.

Dan Pezzoni, co-principal of Landmark Preservation Associates, said if you’re looking into how a certain modern subdivision got its name, for example, the best bet would be to find the original developer.

To do that, you could go to the register of deeds office and look at the original subdivision plot.

For older information, historic maps can be helpful. In urban areas such as Wilmington, you can get Sanborn Maps, which were originally created for fire insurance liability. Pezzoni said these maps would show actual buildings and land.

The best way to look for those maps is to head to your local library and go through microfilm.

Here are the numbers for the local planning and register of deeds offices.

New Hanover County Planning: 798-7165 Register of Deeds: 798-4530

Brunswick County Planning: 253-2025 Register of Deeds: 253-2690

Pender County Planning: 259-1202 Register of Deeds: 259-1225

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One Response to “ How do I research land history?”

  1. On October 17, 2009 at 9:23 am Jeff wrote:

    For New Hanover county, you can get some very useful information here:


    I believe most other counties have similar sites although I have not used those. The New Hanover site was very useful for me while I was researching a real estate purchase.

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