The distinctive three-decker homes found throughout urban New England are swiftly becoming an endangered species, the New York Times reports. The homes—mostly built around a century ago to accommodate new immigrants—were snapped up by investors in boom times who rented them out without doing any maintenance. They are now being foreclosed upon, left to rot, and demolished at a much higher rate than other dwellings.
Some city officials are glad to see the boxy houses go, but others are keen to protect them. The homes provide vital affordable housing on a relatively small amount of land, backers say, and they are an essential part of New England's identity. "When I see a three-decker, I immediately feel home,” says Boston author Dennis Lehane.