Property Swoon: Boston’s Skinny Spite House

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.

Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House corner view
Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House corner view and front door in alley.

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.

 44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House dining sitting room rear

The kitchen has a full complement of appliances. The front window faces Copps Hill Buyring Ground, established 1659.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House kitchen 1st floor

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.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House bathroom blue tile white fixtures 2nd floor

 44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House bathroom laundry room 2nd floor

The tv room faces the front, overlooking Copp’s Hill.

 44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House living room 2nd floor
44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House living room 2nd floor

 

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House living room stairs and brick wall 2nd floor
44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House living room stairs and brick wall 2nd floor

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.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House stairs 2nd floor

Boston Skinny House – 3rd Floor

The 3rd floor has a bedroom with bunk beds and a sitting area.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House 3rd floor

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.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House 3rd floor sitting

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.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House loft beds 3rd floor

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.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House bedroom

This stair case looks a little less safe!

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House bedroom

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House bedroom closet system 3rd floor

 

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House seating area front top floor gable window fourth floor

 

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House stairs to attic 4th floor

And the roof deck with water views.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House Roof deck with view boston harbor

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.

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House outdoor seating angled
44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House outdoor seating angled
44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House outdoor seating sofas
44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House outdoor seating sofas

44 Hull St Boston Skinny House Spite House Patio

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.

xoxo Linda

12 thoughts on “Property Swoon: Boston’s Skinny Spite House”

  1. Hello Linda, For permanent living, I would like a little more breathing room than this house affords. As for the interior, for me it is a disappointment. There is not one single thing that alludes to the house’s age or history, and no interesting featuring of the old architecture. Those furnishings and decorations can be found in any new apartment or Youtube “decorator’s” channel. Unique spaces need unique and appropriate decoration.
    –Jim

    Reply
    • Oh Jim – you should learn to say what you really mean! Lol. I agree, as shown in the photos, the space is fairly bland. But of course, they are staged for the photos and showings so likely a lot was removed to make the space look larger than it is.

      Reply
  2. SO fun to see this house pop up again – I love the outside space much more than the inside, and I totally agree…the one bathroom and that not on a bedroom floor seems quite inconvenient. It would be a charming house for a short stay, because location. location. location. But, I don’t think I’d want to live there, even if it meant I could walk for access to great Italian pastry all the time LOL.

    Reply
  3. I never heard of this Spite House, I’ll have to go and check it out. It’s a little to tight for this tall gal but the side yard and story are priceless! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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