A new entry in the narrowest house contest

Where is the narrowest house in North America? Guy Smith of Alexandria, Va., may have found the answer. In late August, the Monitor reported on a Boston house only 10 feet, 4 inches wide. Narrow, but not narrow enough, the article stated, because there was a house in Greenwich Village in New York City that is just 9 1/2 feet wide.

There the matter might have rested, except for the work of Mr. Smith, who recently wrote that the Monitor was wrong:

''The attached photos [are] of a house at 523 Queen Street, Alexandria, Va. [ It] is about five blocks from the Potomac River. . . . My neighbor, Don Macklin, lives across the street and willingly posed for the photos [one of which is reprinted above]. . . . The photo was not staged; the dogs are real and not miniature, and are mine, both female labradors, full-size as evidenced from my monthly dog-food bill.''

The house is about 6 feet wide, Smith claims. (But the Alexandria Tourist Council says that it is closer to 7 feet.)

The alley house, built about the turn of the century, can't possibly hold the world record, which belongs to a 5-by-4-by-3-foot box in England, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Still, it might just be the tightest housing in North America.

Time - or another enterprising reader - will tell.

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