A recent property sale has been making headlines around the country. Known as the Boston Skinny House – this home in Boston’s North End is one of the most famous and smallest properties to be built. It also is rumored to have been built as as “Spite House”. The house – which is 10FT wide and 1,125 total square feet, recently sold for $1.25M – a testament to not only the current hot housing market but also to its history. I lived in the North End for a few years in my 20’s and I used to walk by this house and wonder about it. Notable is of course that it’s so narrow that there is no front door on the street side of the house. It’s on the side alley and opens to the first floor.
Boston Skinny House – 1st Floor
The first floor contains the living area and kitchen. The living area is in the rear of the house with Juliette balcony overlooking the backyard.
The kitchen has a full complement of appliances. The front window faces Copps Hill Buyring Ground, established 1659.
Boston Skinny House – 2nd Floor
The second floor contains the bathroom, laundry and another sitting area. The bathroom is facing the back of the house.
The tv room faces the front, overlooking Copp’s Hill.
In this view you can really see now narrow the open tread and steel staircase is. But I like that it’s open and airy yet also looks very substantial and safe.
Boston Skinny House – 3rd Floor
The 3rd floor has a bedroom with bunk beds and a sitting area.
The front of house facing sitting area is directly over the 2nd floor seating area with a half-circular opening between the two floors. I’m not sure why there’s this opening other than to let light flow – but there are windows on both levels and it seems to me this takes precious floorspace.
The bunk beds are in the rear facing alcove. This seems to me to be a little awkward a space especially with the mini-split unit right over the upper bunk. I’m not sure what’s behind the French doors.
I would say that the house only has 1 bathroom on the 2nd floor. Having to run up and down the stairs in the middle of the night from the top floor seems all kinds of inconvenient and uncomfortable to me. Without knowing what’s behind the double doors above, I’d maybe want to add a bathroom on this floor somehow. I don’t think it could be added to the front sitting room with out a lot of plumbing work – which isn’t likely doable. I’m sure all the previous owners have looked into this. But it sure would be a deal breaker for me – assuming I was even interested in such a vertical living arrangement. Which I am not.
Boston Skinny House – 4th Floor
The 4th floor is the main bedroom space I guess. The stairs are to the roof deck.
This stair case looks a little less safe!
And the roof deck with water views.
Back yard seating
The backyard has some very nice seating – a small bistro set outside what I assume is the basement door and then a much needed seating area on the lower area.
As for the decor, they clearly decided to stick with clean modern lines and rustic textures which marry so well with the scale and exposed brick. The simple white roman shades, which are all motorized, are classic.
So, why is it called a “Spite House” ? The story goes that a man left the vacant property to his two sons back in the 1800’s. One of the sons was away in the military and the other son went ahead and built himself a house taking up most of the property, leaving only a small sliver available to the other brother. That brother came home and decided he wasn’t going to take that lying down, so he built his Skinny House up against his brothers house and blocked some of his windows and views in the process. It’s not clear that this is the actual story, but it’s a fun one!
Vertical living spaces are common in Boston. My South End townhouse project was in a brownstone that was only one room wide and two deep with a central stair – though much bigger than this Skinny House!
Do you think you could live in this house? Apparently, in the past it’s served as a short term rental. I think it would make an amazing rental property given it’s great location and amenities. Vertical living would be fine for short term, but not in the long run for me personally.