The city of Boston has a great variety of architecture, ranging from modern glass skyscrapers to traditional 330-year-old colonial homes. Beantown also has its share of rather strange buildings, often with interesting histories behind them. Here are some of the most peculiar properties that are worth visiting:
Scarlett O’Hara House
This destination is a quaint two-story Greek Revival townhouse nestled between two customary red brick homes. At first glance, nothing seems strange about it, but a closer inspection reveals its secret; it’s not actually a house at all! Over three decades old, the building is actually an intricate three-dimensional illusion painted on a normal, boring wall. The well-kept flowers at the foot of the “porch” add another level of realism to the already convincing mirage. It is important to note that Rollins Place is private property and that visitors should enjoy the view of the house from behind the gate.
One of the most unique residences in Boston, the “Skinny House” is located on the Freedom Trail near Copp’s Hill Burial Ground and Old North Church, only half a mile from the Boxer. Considered the narrowest house in the city, parts of the abode are barely more than 6 feet apart, allowing one to touch both sides of the house at once. Almost 150 years old, varying legends and folklore exist to explain the peculiar blueprint of the property. Almost all of the stories agree on one detail: the home was built as a “spite house.” This means that its construction had an initial goal of blocking the light or the view of a neighbor who had a dispute with the initial owner.
Thirteen Foot House
Essentially the opposite of the Skinny House in terms of its odd dimensions and the reason for them, the Thirteen Foot House is another unique Boston dwelling. Originally three separate carriage houses, it is sandwiched between two much taller buildings, making it appear even shorter than it is. The original owner lived on a street nearby and to ensure she always had a view of Mount Vernon Street, she made sure that the deed prohibited the roof from being higher than thirteen feet. Its height also allows neighbors on the north side of Mount Vernon Street views of Boston Common.
Forest Hills Cemetery’s Miniature Village
Inside the historic Forest Hills Cemetery is a collection of some of the most interesting structures around the city. Created by artist Christopher Frost, the tiny houses in the village are replicas of the homes in which the cemetery’s occupants lived. Frost purposely chose abodes of different styles to represent the variety of backgrounds that exist among the departed. Ralph Martin, a victim of the Great Molasses Flood, is one Bostonian who has his house memorialized here. Well-known individuals buried throughout the rest of the cemetery include E.E. Cummings, Joseph Warren, and William Lloyd Garrison.
175 Federal Street and 100 Federal Street (The Pregnant Building)
Two of Boston’s strangest and most iconic skyscrapers are actually located on the same street in the Financial District. 175 Federal is a hexagonal structure and has a much smaller base than the rest of the building, giving it the appearance that a strong wind could knock it over at any moment. 100 Federal Street’s nickname comes from the large bulge on the lower third of the tower, giving the impression that it is pregnant. The design is meant to give pedestrians a better view of the street, though walking beneath it is a strange sensation.