Once upon a time, in the 1870’s during a smallpox epidemic in New York City, someone decided to build a very narrow row house in what used to be a passage way to backyard stables (Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation). Over the years, the little house has hosted a shoemaker shop, a sweet factory, the poet Edna St Vincent Millay, actors Cary Grant and John Barrymore, and anthropologist Margaret Mead, before finally becoming a quiet family residence in Greenwich Village.
Although, being the narrowest row house in Manhattan does make it a bit of a curiosity, and earns it a “1/2” address, usually the house only shows up in the news when it’s on the market, this time for $4.3 million.
People seem astonished that a house that only measures nine feet six inches wide can be livable but it’s a wonderful home with seven rooms, most with built-in furniture/shelving, and a brick exterior that resembles classic Dutch row home style, added years after the house was built. Despite exterior appearances, it’s actually not that small, thanks to three stories and a very lengthy 30 feet,which yield about 990 square feet of living space. If the homeowner feels a little claustrophobic, they can always go in the huge, shared backyard, where the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, as well as nosy tourists, melt away.
I have to laugh when people think this house is tiny. We would love an extra 200 square feet in our row house. I’m sure my husband would have appreciated it as he was climbing over our kitchen sink to access our water heater. Thankfully he’s slender because not many men can share a space smaller than an airline toilet with a 40 gallon water heater and use a shop vac. And, as we’re reminded every time someone really tall visits, thankfully we’re all under 5’10”.
Small houses are great. They’re less expensive to maintain and take less time to clean. Often, sacrificing on space means you can get more from your location. In any case, it’s best not to complain, because there is always a smaller row house somewhere.