History of the Triple Decker

Building Top Row (440)


Originally called three deckers when they first began to appear in Boston just before the turn of the 20th century, triple deckers are based on the construction principles of three decker ships. Designed to maximize living space on rectangular city lots, triple deckers were built so that the apartments, stacked one atop another, extended back into the lot, with rooms opening up one on to the other.

The fronts of the houses featured stacked porches between columns, purposely created to encourage the owners of the properties to take advantage of the fresh air. Although spaces between the houses were often small, the houses were similarly constructed with windows designed to cross-ventilate the structure during long, humid city summers.  Many triple deckers also had back porches as well, giving the families who lived in them even more outside space.

Building - row of triple deckers (440)

These traditional triple deckers had the elaborate finish work more commonly associated with late Victorian homes: banded cornices, carved columns supporting the porches and elaborate painting schemes to show off this detail. Some of these flat-roofed structures featured “snowflake” design railings for their porches as well as awnings and sun-screens for porches and front windows.

To be eligible for the programs and services of the 3D Program, the property you own or want to buy must be a triple decker as defined by the City’s Assessing Department. Follow this link to find out if your property is an eligible triple decker: Is My Home a Triple Decker??