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75½ Bedford Street

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Opened  1873
75½ Bedford Street
Similar  Prospect Park Zoo, 48 Wall Street, Columbia University Low Mem, St Paul the Apostle Church, James Watson House

75½ Bedford Street is a building in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City that is only 9 feet 6 inches (2.9 meters) wide. Built in 1873, it is often described as the narrowest house in New York. Its past tenants have included Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ann McGovern, cartoonist William Steig and anthropologist Margaret Mead. It is sometimes referred to as the Millay House, indicated by a New York City Landmark plaque on the outside of the house.

Contents

History

The three-story house is located at 75½ Bedford Street, between Commerce and Morton Streets, not far from Seventh Avenue South in the West Village section of Manhattan. It is considered to be the narrowest townhouse in New York City by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. On the inside, the house measures 8 feet 7 inches wide; at its narrowest, it is only 2 feet wide. There is a shared garden in the rear of the house.

The archives of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation says that the house was constructed in 1873 during a smallpox epidemic, for Horatio Gomez, trustee of the Hettie Hendricks-Gomez Estate, on what was the former carriage entranceway for the adjacent property, which includes the adjacent 1799 house at 77 Bedford Street, built by Joshua Isaacs, the oldest house in Greenwich Village. However, the house may have been constructed earlier, as the style that appears in a 1922 photograph at the New-York Historical Society is typical of the 1850s Italianate architecture common in the area at the time.

In 1923, the house was leased by a consortium of artists who used it for actors working at the nearby Cherry Lane Theater. Cary Grant and John Barrymore stayed at the house while performing at the Cherry Lane during this time. Edna St. Vincent Millay, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, and her new husband, coffee importer Eugen Jan Boissevain, lived in the house from 1923 to 1924. They hired Ferdinand Savignano to renovate the house. He added a skylight, transformed the top floor into a studio for Millay and added a Dutch-inspired front gabled façade for her husband.

Later occupants included cartoonist William Steig and his sister-in-law, anthropologist Margaret Mead. The current owner is George Gund IV (son of sports entrepreneur George Gund III), who purchased the house for $3.25 million in June 2013.

Construction

The external dimensions of the house are approximately 9.5 by 42 feet, on a lot that is 80 feet deep, while the internal dimensions vary between 2 feet and 8.5 feet by 30 feet deep. City records list the house as 999 square feet.

"A centrally placed spiral staircase dominates all three floors and bisects the space into two distinct living areas. The narrow steps call for expert sideways navigational skills. Under the stairwell on the first floor is a tiny utility closet, the only closed storage space in the house. All three floors have fireplaces". The house has two bathrooms, and its galley kitchen comes with a microwave built into the base of the winding staircase that rises to the upper floors.

Other narrow houses in New York City

Although listed by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission as the narrowest house in New York, according to the Wall Street Journal, "… a search of [New York] city tax records suggests that several residential buildings may be smaller. The tax files list a 9-foot-wide house that shares a lot with a larger house on East 27th Street in Manhattan, and a corner building in Greenpoint in Brooklyn with an office on the ground floor listed at just under 8 feet".

References

75½ Bedford Street Wikipedia


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