The history of Boston’s Skinny House

This is without a doubt the skinniest house in our city. | Photo by Atlantic Visuals

This is without a doubt the skinniest house in our city. | Photo by Atlantic Visuals

Nothing defines the bizarre nature of Boston real estate better than the North End’s Skinny House. Today, we’re squeezing in some history about this tiny local landmark.

What’s the skinny?

The so-called “Spite House” is only 10 feet wide + 30 feet long, four stories high, and 1,165 sqft of space in total. You can find it at 44 Hull St., just across the street from Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and a quick walk from The Freedom Trail.

This North End landmark was built in the 1800s (records show some conflicting information on the exact year), supposedly due to a sibling rivalry.

As local lore has it, a man had returned home from fighting in the Civil War to find that his brother built a massive house on a shared piece of land from their father.

So, he took matters into his own hands and built this minuscule home wedged between two properties to get back at his brother. The house was originally blocked off from sunlight and views of the harbor — aka the biggest pros of having a home in the area.

Now the “Spite House” nickname is probably making more sense, though it may not actually be true. Boston Landmarks Commission records instead deem the local gem as the surviving half of a double house.

While we can’t confirm the original theory, one thing is for sure: tourists and Bostonians alike can appreciate its quirkiness.

What does it look like inside?

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These pictures have us thinking the house isn’t too skinny at all. | Photos by Atlantic Visuals

Once guests have entered through the side door — that’s right, there is no front door to the property — they’ll find a surprisingly spacious two-bedroom, one-bathroom property.

The updated design is a mix of the old world charm (think: exposed brick and antique hardwood floors) and modern qualities like stainless steel appliances and a Nest thermostat.

Despite initially obstructed views, a private roof deck lets the current owners enjoy the North End scenery.

What’s the story now?

The house was most recently sold in September 2021 for just over the $1.2 million asking price ($1.25 million).

While the local legend was quickly snatched up, there are still housing options nearby. Here’s a property for sale just steps away from the historic home.

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You could be neighbors with a piece of Boston history. | Photos by Jordan Staiger via Luxury Residential Group, LLC and Kaitlyn Attfield

36 Hull St., Unit 6

2BR/1BA | $939,000 | This 1,050 sqft North End home just hit the market, complete with an unobstructed view of the Boston Harbor. Take that, Spite House builder. There is also a breakfast bar, common laundry + an elevator in the building.