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When Graham C. Lytle built his Glover Park house in 1933, he claimed he was looking for the amenities of an apartment without the noise and disruptions that come along with sharing a building with other tenants. “The endeavor was made to translate apartment size and efficiency into an independent unit within its own four walls,” wrote Lytle in a Christian Science Monitor article. But Lytle’s endeavor yielded the independent broom closet—complete with faux stone walls and a few windows—that now sits at 2424 37th St. NW. It’s believed to be the smallest house in the District. If it isn’t, there’s a homeowner in town with a world-class resistance to claustrophobia.
Real estate listings place the house’s square footage at about 280—or about half the size of the average studio apartment. “The square footage is pretty pitiful. It’s about the size of a peanut,” says current owner Fran Delgado, who plans to run an antique shop from the hut. The living room and upstairs chamber eat up most of the space, leaving a whopping 9 square feet for the kitchen. That’s about enough room for a chopping block, a tiny sink, a few utensils, and a munchkin to do the cooking. The college dormsize refrigerator sits under the stairway, but that’s no inconvenience—it’s just a couple of paces away from the kitchen.
Throughout its 63-year history, the hut has lodged a diverse crew of renters and owners, most of whom were initially excited about living in the city’s smallest house but then bolted after bumping heads with the 4-foot-6-inch showerhead, the doorjambs, and roommates, who were always within breathshot. “They never stayed long, because I don’t think it would have been very comfortable,” says Margaret Woodward, an octogenarian Glover Park resident.
Barbara Baskin, who owned and rented out the house in the ’50s and ’60s, says she once got a tip from the chef at Old Europe, a restaurant across the street, that her cute little house was the scene of some nasty activity. “The German chef vowed to me there were three to four prostitutes there. He said in his very German accent, ‘Where would they have room to do it? Hanging out the window, maybe?’”
The house is equipped with an alarm system, which the security company installed in record time. But instead of securing the house’s contents, maybe Delgado should think about sinking the alarm sensors into the ground. After all, how tough would it be for a couple of hoods to plop the house in a pickup and drive off?
But Delgado needs to secure the linens and small—really small—furniture in his new shop. “I don’t expect to make any money off of it,” says Delgado. “It’s just too small. How much money can go out that door?”