Boston's Skinniest House Is Less Than 11 Feet Wide and Was Built Because of a Sibling Rivalry

Glenn Garner
·2 min read

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The skinniest house in Boston is almost literally a hidden gem.

Located in the North End of Boston, the Skinny House is only 10.4 feet wide and holds the "uncontested distinction of being the narrowest house in Boston," according to The Boston Globe. At its widest, the interior is 9.2 feet wide, and 6.2 feet at its narrowest, allowing someone tall enough to touch both walls at the same time.

The house is nestled in between two buildings on a historic city block, across the street from Copp's Hill Burying Ground and in view of Old North Church. A quick detour from the Freedom Trail makes it a must-see for tourists.

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A plaque outside the house reads, "The Skinny House (Spite House) Est. 1862." In addition to its odd dimensions, the home also has a spiteful history of sibling rivalry, which contributes to its local lore and tourist appeal.

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Two brothers are said to have inherited the property from their deceased father during the Civil War, and one built himself a massive home, while the other was away fighting. When the latter returned home, he found only a shred of property remaining. The soldier decided to build the narrow house out of spite, blocking his brother's sunlight.

Built in the mid-to-late 19th century, the house was once only 274 square feet, before it was expanded with renovations over the years. It now features two bedrooms and one bathroom, across four floors, for a total of 1,166 square feet.

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"We can't have any ballroom dancing," a previous owner told The Boston Globe in the 2005 article. "We had a party of 10 one New Year's Eve, and when one person has to go to the bathroom, everyone has to move."

The house was last sold in 2017 for $900,000 by real estate firm Cabot & Company.