05 November 2015

Past Ownership and the House's Chain of Title - Part 2 (Post-Construction)

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series which analyzes the chain of title completed by gathering old property deeds for our subject house. It will examine the time period from 1924 to present-day, representing what I believe to be the full time period since the house was constructed.

Part 1 covered 1920-1924, the time period after the Ferguson's North Glenside subdivision was created, but before the house was built. Part 3 will segue into the use of mortgage documents and how they can enhance the deed research already completed.

1924 to 1932 (Before the Cantlins)

Picking up where we left off in Part 1, you'll recall that I have theorized that the house was constructed sometime during the ownership of local hardwood flooring contractor Andrew F. Gutekunst, between Nov 11, 1923 and Oct 2, 1924. Although I have as of yet been unable to piece together any biographical information for this couple, the house's first owner/occupants may have been Mr. and Mrs. Francis and Anna Coogan, as they purchased the house from Gutekunst for $5,500. They must have been local residents already prior to the transaction, however, as they are listed as being from North Glenside in the documentation. Nonetheless, the Coogans' tenure on the property was not long. By February 1925, the Sheriff of Montgomery County had seized the property, likely due to the Coogans being unable to meet the terms of the mortgage, and placed it up for auction at a sheriff's sale.

The new owner? A familiar face-- Harry Renninger, a local real estate proprietor who was heavily involved in community organizations in Glenside, and who owned this property for most of 1923. The price listed on the Deed Poll recorded in May of 1925? Five Hundred Dollars-- or, $150 less than he sold it for less than two years prior. Quite a bargain for the astute businessman.

Harry Renninger, owner of the property on multiple occasions
This time, Harry did own the property for some time. He and his second wife, Mildred, owned the house for over two more years, although likely never lived there as they held their primary residence on Harrison Ave, on the Cheltenham side of Glenside. On July 14, 1927, they sold it to Eugene Stout, a 53-year-old electrical engineer moving out to Glenside from Philadelphia, and his wife Mary. As mentioned previously, the Stouts had two twin teenage daughters as well as a son living with them at the house at the time of the 1930 census. However, the Stouts were renting the house in 1930, and did not own it. What happened? Well, the deeds tell us that Eugene Stout conveyed the property to the Remlu Building and Loan Association, a mortgage investment corporation directed by none other than Harry Renninger, on October 9, 1929. While deeds alone do not tell us the full story, some arrangement must have occurred in which the Stouts no longer held title to the home but were allowed to remain there as rental tenants.

1932 to Present

That is, until sometime shortly before October 17, 1932, when a couple in their late 20's, John J. and Catherine Cantlin bought the home from the Remlu B&LA. This particular deed actually tells us the address of the grantees (the Cantlins), which is 402 Central Avenue in Ardlsey-- the subject house. This listed fact leads me to believe that the Cantlins may have been renting the house prior to actually purchasing it. Although the Remlu Building and Loan owned the house for three years, they rented it to a former owner in Eugene Stout as well as a future owner in the Cantlins. There certainly may have been other tenants in between.

The deed conveying the land to the Cantlins reveals that they already lived at the subject house at 402 Central Ave prior to purchasing it
And thus began the nearly 70-year ownership period of the home by the Cantlin family. Finally, this house had some stable ownership. The Cantlins, raising three children in the house, later expanded it with an addition built in either one or two phases, completed in 1946. John Cantlin, a grocer and chain store manager, passed away in 1961. By then, Catherine Cantlin was a widow in her fifties and her children were all adults. She continued to lovingly maintain her home as a duplex until her later years.

In 2001, Mrs. Cantlin was of such an advanced age (94-95) that she was unable to live alone in the house any further. Her son, Robert, and his wife took care of the business of selling the family home to a young couple that year. The following year, in 2002, Catherine Cantlin passed away, in a nursing home in Roslyn not far from her life-long home. This next young family owned the home for 13 years, performing a number of updates and re-establishing it as a single-family home. They themselves raised their own children there. Finally, in July 2014, my wife and I bought the home for the cycle to begin again anew, as we raise our children here.

Next Steps

Although this is actually a relatively short summary of what the property deed title chain has yielded us in the form of the land and home's ownership history, there are a number of directions which I have and will continue to pursue further. One step is to review recorded mortgages on file at the county Register of Deeds of all of these former owners, trying to specifically locate those which relate to this property. As you will see in Part 3 of this short series, mortgages can provide further detail into the transaction amounts involved in each sale (if a mortgage was obtained at all).

We also have now seen that one particular individual, Harry Renninger, was involved with this property multiple times and across several years. He was involved further as a board member of a corporation that owned the house for a time. Mr. Renninger having been a prominent local figure during his life, it is important to research him further. Perhaps his descendants can also be contacted, to determine if any of his former business records are still in existence.

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