New York City's Skinniest House for Sale

The skinniest house in New York City has already served its prior tenants well, since it was at 75.5 Bedford Street where the great American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote the poem that won her the Pulitzer Prize.

Maybe form is more than function, it’s inspirational — given the way the skinny house appears to have dictated the very narrow margins of verse St. Vincent Millay used for constructing  “The Ballad of the Harp Weaver.”

Built in 1873, the West Village house has also been home to actors Cary Grant and John Barrymore, while anthropologist Margaret Mead also settled in for a spell.

But at 9.6 feet wide and a cozy 990 square feet, the city’s skinniest house has been back on the market for the second time since 2009 and this time, it carries a pretty big sticker price: $4.3 million.

The price boost accounts for a $1M, down-to-the-studs renovation by the “international” owner who bought the “Millay House” in 2009 for $2.175M.

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Listing agent Bo Poulsen of Town Residential in Manhattan said his client expected to use the famous townhouse as a pied-a-terre, so the renovations were done for his enjoyment.

The place now boasts “beautiful modern finishes, yet retains its original character and pedigree,” Poulsen said.

According to the listing for 75.5 Bedford Street, the historically significant townhouse is a “light and airy home, built circa 1850, boasts 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a top-of-the-line custom kitchen, a splendid planted garden, 4 wood burning fireplaces, original exposed beams, and a fully finished lower level retreat.”

No expense was spared: The flooring throughout is reclaimed rift and quarter-sawn antique oak. The beautifully appointed kitchen features white oak cabinetry, custom millwork, Crema Ella Italian marble countertops and backsplash. The windowed master bath, with a balcony overlooking the planted garden, is exquisitely designed with a claw foot tub, separate shower, mosaic tiles, Italian marble and English Lefroy Brooks fixtures.

Each fireplace is framed with natural travertine marble. Modern conveniences include central air, washer/dryer and new radiators throughout. The second bath features dolomite and calacatta marble.

“Whether cozying up by the fireplace or enjoying the garden as a summer respite, this is truly a house for all seasons,” Poulsen said.

Unfortunately, the new owner who splurged for all these upgrades never wound up spending time in New York, leaving the city’s skinniest house vacant since 2009 and compelling the owner to sell.

Poulsen said the price is not as steep as it might appear, since the homes in the West Village neighborhood generally command townhouse prices of $6M. He said the house requires a special buyer, one who not only would enjoy the novelty of the building, but also its history and — given the swells of curious tourists — the sometimes hectic attention that comes with owning such an architectural attraction.

And, Poulsen said, a potential buyer of just that sort has spent a few weeks in October 2011 negotiating for purchase of 75.5 Bedford. If the deal goes through, Poulsen said he thinks the potential new owner is “definitely someone who understands and appreciates the history of the building and is a person who is going to add to the interesting story of the property.”

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