Society

Soldier Built 'Spite House' For Greedy Brother (Video)

| by David Bonner
The Skinny HouseThe Skinny House

Jennifer Simonic and her husband Spencer Welton live in a home that has the "uncontested distinction of being the narrowest house in Boston," according to the Boston Society of Architects' AIA Guide to Boston (video below).

It’s what’s known as a “spite house” -- defined by the architecture website Arch Daily as “buildings created for malice instead of comfort meant to irritate or enrage neighbors, or occasionally piss off anyone unfortunate enough to be dwelling inside. Normally built to block a neighbor's light or access, they can be found as early at the 18th century.”

The Simonic/Welton house, commonly known in Boston as “The Skinny House,” was built in 1862. According to local legend, two brothers inherited land when their father died, reports Boston.com. While one brother was serving in the Civil War, the other built a large home, leaving the soldier just a tiny strip of property that he thought was too small to build on. But he was wrong.

The brother, upon returning, built a house on the strip of property just for spite, knowing the skinny home would block the sunlight and ruin the view that his greedy brother enjoyed from his large house.

The resulting spite house is 10.4 feet at the widest point, 8.4 feet at its narrowest. "As far as we know, it is the narrowest house in Boston,” says Ellen Lipsey, executive director of the Boston Landmarks Commission.

"Instead of doors, we have floors between each space," said Welton, 35, who has a degree in architecture. It has no front door, and must be entered through a side door, where a steep staircase leads to the 3-foot-by-6-foot kitchen.

Getting furniture into the house is a challenge. The living room sofa had to be hoisted through an upstairs window. As for the bed, "We even had to saw the box spring in half diagonally to fit it," said Welton.

But despite all the obstacles that come from living in the narrowest house in Boston, the couple couldn’t be happier. "When we saw it, we fell in love with it right away, because it had a lot of character," said Welton.  "We're comfortable living here," Simonic added. "It's home."

They purchased it in 2001 for $345,000.

Sources: Little Things/Facebook, Boston.com, Arch Daily / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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