Monday, December 17, 2012

Lillian Leighton's home in the 1924 Portland Tax Records

The Portland, Maine, 1924 Tax Records were created as part of a city-wide tax reevaluation. The 2 3/4" x 4" original black and white photographs provide extraordinary documentation of the appearance and condition of every taxable property in the city at that time. The accompanying tax forms provide equally valuable information, including the use of the property, the original building materials and finishes and the property's assessed value as of 1924. On the back of each form, a pencil sketch illustrates the size and shape of the building footprint on the property.

The collection consists of 131 books containing approximately 30,000 pages, each page recording a single property (properties with more than one building will generally have a page for each building). The records were kept in a cabinet in the Portland tax assessor's office in City Hall until 2009. They are now being scanned by a team of volunteers to provide greater public access while allowing the original documents to go into proper archival storage.

These records are now available at Maine Memory Network.

Recently, I was fortunate to find the tax record of 221 Sherwood St., Portland, Maine, the home of my 2nd great grandmother, Lillian Brackley Leighton (1864-1954), and her son Mark, my paternal great grandfather.

1920 Census

East Deering is the easternmost neighborhood of the city of Portland.  The neighborhood is situated between the Munjoy Hill and North Deering neighborhoods of the city, as well as the town of Falmouth.  Much of the neighborhood has views of Casco Bay.  The major throughways in East Deering are Washington Avenue and Veranda St.

According to this record, in 1924, this was an 8 year old residence, a frame house covered in clapboards. Its assessed value was $2,167, with a land value of $326.  There was 1 tenant and 6 "rooms and bath."

By 1930, Mrs. Leighton was joined by her 15-year old grandson, Howard King, whose mother Maud has died in 1925. (The house had been re-numbered to 223).

1930 Census

By finding this record, I was able to solve a house picture mystery as well. The picture below is undated.  But the pitch of the roof, the chimney, and the windows confirm that it is, in fact, 221 Sherwood St.

By sharpening, cropping and magnifying this picture, I can see an older woman on the porch, a young boy at the top of the steps, two women on the steps, and an older girl with a bicycle.  My guess is that Mrs. Leighton is the older woman, and perhaps Howard is the young boy.

By 1940, Howard King, his first wife Phyllis Crozier, and his young son Rodney, were living  at 223 Sherwood St., along with Lillian Leighton.

1940 Census

By searching the Cumberland County (Maine) Real Estate Records, I learned that Lillian sold the property to her grandson Howard in 1939 for one dollar.

The 1954 Portland City Directory told me that Lillian Leighton, widow of Enoch Leighton, lived in this house until she died.

This is what 221/223 Sherwood Street looks like today.

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