We were making our way through Northern Liberties the other day and stopped in our tracks as we approached the corner of 4th & Poplar. 907 N. 4th St. has been a vacant lot for a very long time, decades at least, but a new home has appeared here in the last couple months. We wouldn’t typically bring the construction of a lone home to your attention, but in this case it’s worth it, due to the unique nature of the home. More specifically, this new home is incredibly skinny.

The same family owned this property, along with the home next door at 909 N. 4th St., since the 1950s. Developers bought both last summer, paying $410K for the package. They’ve pulled permits to fix up the home, but from the exterior it doesn’t appear that has happened yet. Construction on the lot next door, on the other hand, has progressed nicely.

New home
Wider in the rear

A reminder, the typical single family home in Philadelphia is 16′ wide, with some occasionally spanning 18 feet or more. 14′-wide homes are less ideal in terms of interior layout, but we still see plenty of those types of homes get built around town. 907 N. 4th St. is a mere 12′-wide at its front property line, and this requires some real finesse by the architects in designing the home so that it doesn’t feel like the walls are closing in. To make matters both easier and more complicated, this particular property gets much wider as is moves to the rear. On the plus side, more space is great. On the other hand, the elimination of right angles as you move through the home eliminates some of the natural benefits of row home construction.

One of our favorite homes a few doors down

Speaking of right angles, or the lack thereof, this seems like a great opportunity to draw attention to 901 N. 4th St., located just a few doors down the block. Built around 2008 and designed by QB3, this building makes a big statement with its curved brick facade and its atypical window placement. It’s one of our favorite homes that have been built over the last several years, and we’re not alone. The Architectural Record named this home as its House of the Month in March of 2011, and we have to say that it has held up well since then. Let’s have more homes like this one, please!