In 1937 when the Works Progress Administration guide, "Washington - City and Capital," made its appearance, curious readers were treated to bits of little-known information, probably new to longtime residents here. One such item concerned a home at 1239 30th St. NW in Georgetown.
The text said of it: "On the east (left) side of 30th Street, half a block south, is the tiny front of Georgetown's narrowest house, scarely 11 feet wide and hardly two complete stories high. The house, which is said to have been built a century ago as 'spite work' to cut off a neighbor's light, has been remodeled into a residence in miniature. A basement entrance, an oriel window and three skylights on the second floor have made the house not only ivable but quaintly attractive. It was for a while the home of Drew Pearson, coauthor of 'Washington Merry-Go-Round.'"
The description was fine, but the writer was wrong about one thing: this was not Georgetown's narrowest house. That distinction attaches to a structure three or four blocks away at 2726 P St. NW. Here, a picturesque little frame row house measures precisely eight feet in width, a yardstick less than the other.
Despite its diminutive size, this is probably not the smallest or narrowest home in the metropolitan area. Alexandria has a claimant in a tiny brick house at 523 Queen St. which appears to be a foot narrower than Georgetown's. Tour guides here describe this as the world's smallest home, having precisely one room on each of its two floors. They go beyond this and ascribe to it a nebulous national fame which brings artists and photographers to its door from all over the country.
How many area residents outside of Alexandria know the little gem? One might shudder at thoughts of living in such constricted quarters, but there is a bright side to every situation. Housework, now and then, is pleasantly minimal. And then - less frequently, to be sure, the tax assessor is probably sympathetic, too. And think of the pleasures accorded walking tourists and those artists and photographers.
James C. Wilfon is interested in architecture.