The Amazing Online Building Technology Heritage Library

Are you an old house nerd? Do you enjoy old building material catalogs? Get ready to cancel Netflix.

The geniuses at the Association of Preservation Technology (APT) have teamed up with Internet Archive to digitize 9,500 pre-1965 construction and building technology documents for your perusal via the Building Technology Heritage Library.

Enjoy strange Murphy bed contraptions? They’ve got you covered:

Tiny Hawaiian kit homes:

Vintage seed catalogs:


Fuddy-duddy 1920s home furnishings:

1960s lamps:

And a few bad ideas:

In case you’re wondering, Jim Brown’s boyhood dream was to build giant factories to manufacture livestock fencing.

But seriously, there’s a lot of useful information here for preservationists, graphic designers and anyone interested in how things used to be built.

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  1. I…
    woah. I’m a video game environment artist by trade and you’ve just made us so happy over here. What a wonderful resource!

  2. So many practical features have been abandoned in modern homes. I’m jealous of your fine wall-mounted ironing board and I’d love to have a proper pantry. Before we bought this house we looked at a few old homes that had actual usable root cellars. It’s hard to retrofit a modern poured concrete basement to create a root cellar with the requisite humidity and temperature.

    Murphy beds are the stuff of silent film comedies and probably Bugs Bunny cartoons, too. There must still be enough interest in them, because Lee Valley Tools offers the necessary hardware in its catalogue:,40842,41271

    As for Johns-Manville, long ago the husband and I lived briefly within walking distance of the JM facility in Manville, NJ. I cannot forget several people we knew, most, but not all, JM employees, who died quite young from breathing asbestos.

  3. I feel like a kid in a candy store! Where to start…a 1920 kitchen plan book…parlor furnaces…saloon and billiard hall supplies…


    • Thanks for alerting me to the billiard and saloon supply catalogs, not that I have any practical application for this trivia (except, maybe, the saloon supplies?).

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