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picture-uh=6f9961d9e72730238d491ff03fa946e7-ps=ed47be784f5bcee5fc282b192f8c1d-214REAR-Monroe-St-Philadelphia-PA-19147YOU’VE HEARD OF THE TINY HOUSE MOVEMENT? They invented that in Philadelphia a couple of centuries ago. The compact ‘trinity houses’ of the late 18th and 19th centuries are now much-coveted for their coziness, charm, and economy. And a dollhouse can be quite livable for 1 or 2, once you get used to the stairs.

This c.1830 trinity, set off the street behind a larger row house, is new to market and very well-priced. It’s in Queen Village, one of the city’s quietest and most attractive neighborhoods. I happen to own a building just around the corner from this one, so I know the area well.

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There are actually four floors of usable space: kitchen/dining on the basement level; a living room with fireplace on the ground level; a hall, ‘dressing room,’ and full bath (with fireplace!) on the 2nd floor; and a large open bedroom with a sloping ceiling at the top of the house, for a grand total of about 600 square feet.

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The taxes are $1,300/year. For the official listing, go here. To learn more about Philadelphia trinities, click here and here.

Near as I can guess, this row of 19th century trinities in a delightfully secluded row near Rittenhouse Square was given a sort of Venetian stucco treatment in the early 20th c., complete with porthole windows, Juliet balconies, and mosaic tiles.

“TRINITIES,” IN PHILADELPHIA PARLANCE, are three-room, three-story houses — one room per floor — built between the 1790s and 1840s.¬† They’re cozy, charming, evocative, historic, and, some might add, un-livable.

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Rear unit of my ‘double trinity’ in South Kensington. The property consists of two back-to-back trinities under one roof.

Trinities are not for everyone, especially those with king-size beds. The smallest are only 100 square feet per floor. There’s a lot of going up and down stairs — narrow, twisty stairs at that. (Good knees a plus.) They’re fine for singles and couples; babies and dogs could be difficult.

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They’re cherished archetypes in Philadelphia (I know there are also some in Baltimore and perhaps other cities, but Philly abounds in them). I’ve never seen or heard of such a tiny house in New York — correct me if I’m wrong.

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You can see very early trinities lined up on Elfreth’s Alley in Old City, but trinities are not just historic curiosities.¬†They’re all over Craigslist, and real-estate websites, for 249K and up in the very best neighborhoods.

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I’ve owned a trinity in South Kensington since 2007 (all pictures in this post except the top one). I paid $135,000 for it. In fact, it’s two trinities, back-to-back under one roof. The rear unit was vacant; I fixed it up nicely, but it still took a while to find a tenant. One woman said the stairs gave her vertigo. Someone else used the word claustrophobic. But when an agile young man bounded up and down those stairs with a big smile on his face, I knew I had the right guy.

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Trinities are found throughout the city, in Fishtown, Queen Village, the Graduate Hospital area, in Center City — often on narrow, cobbled alleys.

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I fell in love with another trinity, above, near Rittenhouse Square, after spotting it for rent on Craigslist. I wanted to live in it so badly, I almost took it as a pied-a-terre, but decided that was silly (I don’t need a pied a terre, though I like the sound of it). This was last fall, and guess what — it’s still for rent! The price has come down from $2,000 to $1,850/month. This for a whole house, albeit a small one, in one of the best parts of town.

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As of this writing, there was a trinity for sale for 299K in Center City, and one for 249K in Queen Village. This greedy old-house fanatic wants another Philadelphia trinity!

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