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North End mythtake: Skinny house on Hull Street wasn't built out of spite

Adam Balsam presents the evidence that the skinniest house in Boston was originally part of a larger two-family house in the early 1870s, but, in story that would not sound unfamiliar today, decided to try to carve a third unit out of the property.

He's also created a skinny-house chronology.

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Comments

It always seemed odd that it was like "a story". No names, no time period as to when it was built.

Funny, I heard built after the Civil War, and the article from 1920 mentions Revolutionary War. Civil War fits that actual history better.

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Voting closed 15

I always wondered if it was an ADU, since filling in an alleyway in an age before setback laws was not an uncommon means of expansion.

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Voting closed 8

Balsam has done an excellent job sleuthing and presenting the information. Thank you for sharing this.

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Voting closed 18

Nope. I was told the "spite house" story by a graveyard tour operator, and there's no way graveyard tour people would tell a lie. I mean, OK, the character did also point to the wrong area as MGH when telling the story of Jane Toppan (and yes, of course, my family, as the only locals on the tour* loudly said where MGH actually was).

*literally the only ones -- the tour operator went around and asked every group where they were from and made fun of their hometown

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Voting closed 11

Having looked at several of the Bromley atlases for this area, I was also suspicious of the "spite house" story. Kudos to Adam Balsam for sniffing out the truth. It's a great story, well documented.

Of course, the house had to leave a passageway for the (now-demolished) houses in the rear, so it couldn't extend all the way to the house next door at 40 Hull Street.

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Voting closed 8