Last week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo posted a "throwback Thursday" photo on Facebook. It showed the ten-foot-wide Skinny House in Mamaroneck, New York during the Great Depression, and a version of the brick-red shingled house today. Built in 1932 by an African-American carpenter named Nathan T. Seeley, this early micro home was made from discarded materials found around Westchester County. Seeley built a number of homes in the area, all meant for the waves of black Southerners moving to New York, but the gable-roofed "Skinny House" is the most distinctive. Now, the home has been nominated to the State and National Register of Historic Places.
According to the New York Times, Seeley's once-successful homebuilding business imploded after the stock market crash of 1929, and the carpenter lost his seven-bedroom home in Mamaroneck. A neighbor gave him a narrow plot of land on the same street to build another home for himself. "With little money to purchase new building materials, Mr. Seely salvaged and recycled everything from railroad ties to windows to banisters — even a chicken coop — to incorporate into his house, which was 37 feet long," the NYT writes.
Seeley's relatives lived in the Skinny House until 1982. Afterward, it was purchased by the daughter of the neighbor who had originally given the 12.5-by-100-foot plot of land to Seeley. Two years ago, however, the wooden house was invaded by termites. The government is expected to add this historic micro home with a fascinating back story to the national registry, which would allow for restoration.
· In Westchester, a Skinny House With Big Aims Vies for a Spot in History [New York Times]
· New York City's 15 Narrowest Buildings, Mapped [Curbed NY]
· All Preservation Watch posts [Curbed National]
· All Micro Homes posts [Curbed National]