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Property Naming Conventions in America

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By : Carolyn Capalbo    99 or more times read
Property names as we know them – “Moor House”, “Toad Hall”, “Gormenghast”… are particularly British in origin and in practice. While nowhere near as popular as in the U.K., this has trickled to North America to some degree, albeit in a more casual manner.

While there are definite written accounts of places and properties being named before the 17th century, the 1800s was when property nomenclature became popular among the landed gentry and eventually was adopted by the general population. Nobility often named their homes after their families (as famously illustrated by ‘Toad Hall’ in The Wind in the Willows). As property names came into more general use, properties were named for the trades the area was known for (Mill House), animals (Fox Keep), previous usage (The Old Rectory) or distinguishing features (Rose Cottage).

Property names were used to locate a property in the advent of travelling or sending mail, with the assumption that the locals would know the name of the property in question and guide guests and mail on its way there. A growing population necessitated an act of Parliament in 1765 that required new properties have a street name and number to aid in identifying properties, owners, and property lines. However, in Britain, house names are still recorded on the deed.

In America, naming houses is a much more casual affair in most cases, being mainly reserved for famous homes, farms, and bed-and-breakfasts. However, there is a new real estate trend that is bringing the naming of property to the forefront: the condo. Today, as in former years, names are meant to convey a sense of value and imbue the property with a certain cachet.

In some ways the nomenclature of real estate is coming full circle, with new developments being given names of properties centuries old, in hopes of imbuing the new residences with the glamour of the old. Sometimes this is an exercise in irony, with shabby, run-down complexes being named things like “King Arthur’s Court” and “Tudor Gardens”. However, in many cases, the naming conventions of the new are reminiscent of the conventions of the old, with new developments being named for their owners (or their owners’ company), the area where they are situated, distinctive features, and former usage.

Names will never completely disappear from real estate. The human need for indicating value and personality by putting a name to property is likely to last as long as the human species does. Whether formal or informal, names for real estate continue to be a popular trend that may have a significant effect in how a property is perceived.
Carolyn Capalbo is an expert military relocation specialist and real estate agent serving Virginia's North Virginia real estate market. Visit to find updated market information about areas in Prince William, including Gainesville VA real estate.

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