The Day – Boston’s “Skinny House”, built in a family feud two centuries ago, sells for over $ 1 million


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With an origin story of wickedness between two warring brothers and a prime location amid historic sites in Boston’s North End, the 44 Hull Street home was sold for $ 1.25 million – but its price tag high is anything but indicative of its size. Nicknamed “The Skinny House”, it is also the narrowest house in town.

Sandwiched between two brick buildings, the four-story sage-green home measures 1,165 square feet. Its widest point is around 10 feet wide, but its narrowest point is 6.2 feet wide, just 5 inches taller than the average height of American men.

“Shaquille O’Neal would definitely be able to hit the wall,” said Travis Sachs, executive vice president of CL Properties, the real estate agency that sold the property.

After receiving several offers, the house was sold to a family of four after it was first listed on August 10, said Carmela Laurella, president of CL Properties. The deal was finalized Thursday for $ 50,000 more than the original asking price, which Sachs said was “in line” with the city’s real estate market.

“In the North End waterfront, we average here about a thousand dollars a square foot,” he said. “We sold on top of that for about $ 1,500 per square foot, since the house is completely remodeled, has the outdoor space in the back and also the private roof terrace.”

The quaint house is designed for vertical living, each of the floors representing living space. To enter, people have to walk down the narrow alley to open the main door, where they are immediately greeted by the kitchen and dining room. The second floor has a living room, a dining area and a bathroom decorated with blue tiles. The remaining two levels are bedrooms with sitting areas and sprawling windows, Sachs said.

Perhaps her best amenity, Laurella said, is “the amazing backyard” or a private garden where her two new young inhabitants can surely play and run.

“It’s definitely unique,” ​​Sachs said. “There is nothing else like it that we have here. It really is a landmark in Boston.”

Located near some of Boston’s most renowned historic landmarks, the Skinny House is an unofficial stop for those on Freedom Trail Walking Tours – who visit 16 national sites on its route. The house is located directly across from Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Boston’s second oldest cemetery that includes the graves of two Puritan ministers associated with the Salem witch trials. The upper deck offers a view of the same harbor where chests of tea were thrown into the water as part of the iconic Boston Tea Party of 1773. The USS Constitution, the 224-year-old ship that defeated four frigates British in 1812, is also visible.

The house itself is not a historic site, but its originality is now part of Boston tradition.

Legend has it that the town’s narrowest house arose out of a quarrel between two brothers who inherited land from their deceased father. While one was fighting in the Civil War, the other built a property there. Upon his return, he built the “Skinny House” in 1862 in an attempt to block his brother’s views and sunlight, earning him the alternate nickname “Spite House” – which is proudly displayed on a plaque. in wood at the front of the house.

Building a house to irritate a family member may seem petty at best and malicious at worst, but it is not a unique trait of the lean house. Across the country, a multitude of buildings, known as ‘houses of spite’, also have reluctant origin stories – and not all date back several centuries.

In the 19th century in Council Bluffs, Iowa, an individual disliked General Grenville Dodge – a Union Army officer who helped direct the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad – so much so that he built a pink house in front of Dodge’s property in 1869 to thwart him, according to The Annals of Iowa, published by the State Historical Society of Iowa.

About eight years ago, a man from Topeka, Kansas, decorated a house in the colors of the pride flag to fight the Westboro Baptist Church, a group known for its anti-LGBTQ signs located in front of the building. now known as “the rainbow house”.

These cases could provoke the wrath of neighbors or, in the case of Westboro Baptist Church, the erection of a tall, sturdy fence. Yet in the United States there is no law to prevent petty behavior – unless the decision can be proven to be malicious and causes harm to the other party, said Roger A. McEowen, Professor of Agricultural Law and Taxation at Washburn University. Law School.

“Because the courts have said these disputes are left to zoning and planning officials, they leave it up to city officials to determine what is an acceptable use of the property, unless it is malicious or nuisance, ”he said. noted.

Unlike the English court system, in the United States “there is no recognized negative easement for light, air or sight,” McEowen said, meaning owners are not subject to restrictions. to take certain actions that can block the sunlight of their neighbor – as was the case with the quarrelsome brothers.

However, when it is shown that an owner’s decisions cause harm, the court may side with the malicious party. Such was the case, said the law professor, in the popular Coty v. Ramsey Associates, Inc of 1988 – in which a man’s decision to haul trucks of manure and erratically operate a pig farm to annoy neighboring hotel owners was found to be “unreasonable and substantial interference “in the use and enjoyment of the other of his property.

During his career as an agricultural lawyer, McEowen said he dealt with a good deal of similar disputes – mostly involving fences that had arisen out of spite. Regardless of the structure erected from insolence, he said their emergence shows how “there is no law against being a tyrant or an ogre,” he said. “Unless it turns into meanness.”

According to psychologist Leon F. Seltzer, people engage in this kind of retaliation out of feelings of deception and exploitation. Their motivation, however, “can easily underestimate the repercussions of their retribution” – sometimes resulting in a nasty legal battle, a hefty fine, or a tiny house.

As far as Skinny House is concerned, its malicious history could have given it charm.

“For $ 1.25 million you can live like a bad brother,” Sachs said. “It really is something.”

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