After thinking things over for the Bullcrab house, I put in an offer. Although the house may not be the most over the top design, it has an interesting roof line, nice entry, lots of original parts and an old cottage in the back. The offer wasn't initially accepted, and required some back and forth with attorneys to hammer out some details. While I waited for the offer to be accepted, I did some research on the age of the house. The sellers had said the main house was built in 1907 and the cottage in the 1860s. I feel like the age for the main house is accurate, but the cottage had to be closer to late 1800s since Wildwood didn't even exist until the late 1800s. I looked up some information in Sanborn Fire maps and those did confirm a structure where the cottage is in 1890. A later map from 1910 showed 2 structures on the property.
I emailed the Cape May County Clerk and she said I can come down to the office to research the age of the house. Once I got down there, the 2 assistants were really helpful in showing me how to trace a property's deed back. You start by searching for the address in the computer since the records from the present to the 1980s are digital. Each entry in the deed is a link to the previous sale with information on the date, seller, and the book and page number where it was recorded. So you grab the physical deed book for the last digital record then read the deed to find the link to the previous sale. You keep doing that until you run out of links and end up at the first sale for the property.
I was able to trace the property back to 1884 when the property was set up from the Holly Beach City Improvement Company. The house was bought by a man in 1884 and then sold in 1895 to a single lady. The initial deed was signed by Joseph Taylor, the president of the Holly Beach City Improvement Company and the namesake of Taylor Avenue. Some interesting terms in the original deed was disallowing the property for use as a slaughterhouse or bone boiling establishment. Also, if a residence is built, it mandated that flowers must be planted outside.
Once I got the deed information, I tried to cross reference the information with tax records, but didn't have as much luck. The problem was that Holly Beach/Wildwood didn’t have a complete set of tax records. I did find one entry from 1909 showing 2 structures on the property, so at this point I'm feeling pretty confident that the property has been a part of Holly Beach/Wildwood since the start of the city's founding. Now I wait to see if the offer is accepted.