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How WIDE is your love?
September 24, 2011 8:25 PM   Subscribe

The Smallest Hotel in the World [autoplay of 'La Traviata'].    So here's the story: it's 1728 and you live in Amberg, a little Bavarian town somewhere north of Munich. You and your lady friend really, really want to get married, but there is a little snag; the council laws permit only homeowners to marry, and you're still stuck renting a place. But all is not lost! You pick up a little strip of empty land between two other buildings - just 2.5 meters wide. You run up a quick wall on the front, another on the back, slap a roof on top, and presto - you're a homeowner. The council falls for it, and allows you to get married.

But now what? Well, it's not liveable, so you head back to the rental place to live, but you recoup your investment by selling the Eh'häusl (Little Wedding House) to the next couple with the same problem. And so on, and so on ...

There is no reliable record of how long the practice continued, but the building survived, and in 2008 it received a complete refurbishment, transforming it into a luxury hotel. Total size? 56 square meters. Maximum number of guests at any one time? Two. [Google street view]

But there's more! According to an old legend told by the locals, couples who spend their wedding night at the tiny hotel are guaranteed* to live happily ever after and never get divorced!

* (guarantee not guaranteed ...)
posted by woodblock100 (28 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
2.5m wide? They could have easily added a lap pool!
posted by greenhornet at 8:46 PM on September 24, 2011


Then the happy newlyweds can move into their tiny house.
posted by NoMich at 8:46 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I'm happy to be here in Amberg. It's a beautiful town you have here. I love this town! But my hotel! My hotel room is so small that when I put my key in the door I broke the window. The room is so small, the mice are hunchbacked. My hotel room is so small I had to wait until I was outside before I could change my mind. If somebody dies in that room they won't need a casket, they'll just some handles on the room. When I checked in and asked for a room the receptionist said "Single?", I said "Yes, but I'm engaged."...

</Catskills' comedy>
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:14 PM on September 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


Awwww......
posted by ocherdraco at 9:14 PM on September 24, 2011


This is called the little wedding house, I see, but in America, such houses are called spite houses.
posted by Anitanola at 9:34 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Housebuses are only 2.5m wide. It's not too bad as long as you have custom built furniture.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 9:55 PM on September 24, 2011


"in America, such houses are called spite houses."

No, spite houses are different things. A spite house is built to spite someone, for instance, you could built an unusable house in front of a neighbor's ocean view, because they never kept hire dog from barking and you had the space available to do such a thing, hoping it would get them to move away.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:33 PM on September 24, 2011


A spite house is built to spite someone, for instance, you could built an unusable house in front of a neighbor's ocean view

Or this.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:45 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Again, I have posted in haste. Instead of "such houses," I should have said "such houses, built despite the opinion of others that no house could or should be built there, are called spite houses," and this might have conveyed the similarity that I perceived, no doubt quite foolishly, between the lovely little wedding house and the notorious Richardson Spite House in New York City as well as the Alexandria house and the view-blocking one in Alameda, California and others. Most of them are narrow, as well, and that contributed to my sense of the similarity. The little wedding house was meant to confound the magistrates, I believe, so that suggested to me an element of "spite."
posted by Anitanola at 11:16 PM on September 24, 2011


Singel 166 is the narrowest house in Amsterdam, and built that way to spite the tax man. A tourguide told me that when it was built, houses were taxed by how wide they were.
posted by dabitch at 12:11 AM on September 25, 2011


This is also the reason for all the "shotgun houses" (you could shoot a shotgun through the front door, and it would go out the back door) in New Orleans: homes were taxed on the street frontage.
posted by taz at 2:12 AM on September 25, 2011


I call shenanigans on the story. You can see another house of the same width next to it on the Google Street View. More likely somebody subdivided a property of normal width, back in the day. The rationale might have been a desire to provide cheap houses for aspiring bridegrooms, but it almost certainly wasn't built by someone who just happened to find a cheap and narrow block.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:53 AM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shotgun houses

Wikipedia says " the name's origin may actually reflect an African architectural heritage, perhaps being a corruption of a term such as to-gun, which means "place of assembly" in the Southern Dohomey Fon area."

Which isn't nearly as much fun as shooting a shotgun in your house.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:25 AM on September 25, 2011


Those are some great little houses! Five feet wide would be uncomfortably small, but 2.5m sounds perfectly acceptable. Here are more small and tiny houses.
posted by eviemath at 6:35 AM on September 25, 2011


Here's a narrow house in London.
posted by Lleyam at 7:04 AM on September 25, 2011


LOL "Badgasse"
posted by Rat Spatula at 7:14 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A shotgun shack would be a great place for a shotgun wedding...
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:02 AM on September 25, 2011


This is also the reason for all the "shotgun houses" (you could shoot a shotgun through the front door, and it would go out the back door) in New Orleans: homes were taxed on the street frontage.

This is awesome, but I think it may not be true. I live in New Orleans now, and people here keep telling me that it's for airflow. You can just open up a shotgun house's front and back doors, and the wind blows right through, which cools off the rooms. Most of them have AC now, though. Also, the double shotgun is more common, and they're as wide in front as a regular Victorian house, though each half is narrow. My friend owns a 10-foot-wide single shotgun house, and walking through it is very strange--it feels like walking along the length of a train car.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:17 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lulu White's famous New Orleans brothel was called Mahogany Hall, which is a pretty good name for a cat, methinks.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:23 PM on September 25, 2011


Sorry! Posted in the wrong place! Too many tabs open. Well, there is a random factoid for everyone.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:24 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Shotgun houses / Wikipedia says " the name's origin may actually reflect an African architectural heritage, perhaps being a corruption of a term such as to-gun, which means "place of assembly" in the Southern Dohomey Fon area."

Seems unlikely, since the earliest known use of "shotgun house" in print is from 1903 (Same wikipedia article), and it didn't become commonly used until after 1940. If it originated from slave or Haitian usage it would have to have been around since early 1800s. The shotgun etymology (in the front door, straight out the back door) makes more sense.

Also, the likeliest reason for their construction is that long, deep lots is simply the most efficient way to divide up urban real estate, not that buildings were taxed by width of frontage. You can see this in any city. Long deep lots maximize the number of houses or stores you can build along a street, so it minimizes per-lot infrastructure costs for roadways and utilities; it also maximizes the efficiency of house-to-house deliveries (ice, milk, etc.) and removals (trash). And, before automobiles and public transportation, narrow lots would minimize the walk to work, for example where shotgun houses were built around mills and factories.

So shotgun houses are simply the logical extreme to which this was taken here and there.
posted by beagle at 1:01 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A recent article about an ordinary city block in New Orleans shows several shotguns and a center hall cottage, the second house in the block is mid nineteenth century (pre-dating the "shotgun" terminology) and is a variation known as a "side gallery." All of the rooms open onto a side porch which is not visible from the street.

The 'shotgun' style is extremely varied in New Orleans and owes much to Caribbean architecture. It shares primarily the concepts of simplicity and economy with shotguns of the rural south and efficient use of urban space with the shotguns, row houses and railroad flats of other cities.

Also, to return to woodblock100's theme of building to thwart the law (and spite the neighbors), this house includes a second story at the rear, making it a camelback. The camelback seems definitely to have sprung up as a way to add a second story to a house while being taxed only for a one-story house.
posted by Anitanola at 1:55 PM on September 25, 2011


Pittsburgh's Skinny Building is sort of a spite building. Andrew Mellon built it hoping that the city would widen the sidewalks on Forbes Ave and be forced to pay him to tear it down. At 5'2" wide, it may be the skinniest building in the world.
posted by octothorpe at 4:59 PM on September 25, 2011


skinniest building in the world ...

Well, the owners of the Sam Kee building over in Vancouver would beg to differ with that claim! And with the underground tunnels and opium dens, theirs is a lot cooler!
posted by woodblock100 at 5:23 PM on September 25, 2011


From your link, the Sam Kee building is 5'10" at its widest, 8" wider than The Skinny Building.
posted by octothorpe at 5:28 PM on September 25, 2011


Hey, I have no dog in this fight (other than being familiar with the building from my time living in Vancouver). But according to that web page, the Guinness people seem to think it 'ranks' up there. Presumably they are going by the measurement at the ground floor level - 4 feet, 11 inches ...
posted by woodblock100 at 5:33 PM on September 25, 2011


To be fair, it's a lot colder in Vancouver.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:04 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've spent time in both Vancouver and Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is colder.

However, Vancouver is wetter.
posted by ardgedee at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2011


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