House and building histories

House and building histories

Getting started

Searching for the history of a particular Sydney building? Looking for information about the home an ancestor lived in?

The City of Sydney Archives contains a wealth of information about Sydney’s households and buildings dating to the mid-19th century.

An important first step in researching a property is to locate it within the City of Sydney local area.

Assessment and rates records will help you find details of ownership, occupation, construction and value for properties in the City of Sydney local government area between 1845 and 1948. These records offer valuable family and property history that is not available from any other source.

Building and development applications can help you find out when your house or apartment was built, who owned it, who lived in it and how the building has been altered over time.

Maps and plans can help to place your house or apartment in context. A wide range of maps are available to view and download from the City’s Historical Atlas of Sydney, as well as at other libraries and archives around NSW and Australia.

Delve into the history of people who lived in your house by searching the online Sands Directories. The Sands Directories are especially useful for family history research, due to the household and business information they contain from 1859 to 1932.

Historical images held at the archives may show the place where you live.

Quick links

This house history guide will lead you through many of the resources available to research the history of your house or apartment. It is intended for residents of the City of Sydney local government area (LGA).

  1. Locate your property in the local area
  2. Search assessment and rates records
  3. Search building and development applications
  4. Find your property on historic maps and plans
  5. Look for historic photos
  6. Search Sands Directories for people or businesses who once lived at your address
  7. Access even more resources
  8. Learn from our case studies

Image: George Street circa 1900. City of Sydney Archives, NSCA CRS 51/19.

Last updated: Wednesday, 4 February 2015