Wednesday 17 September 2014

Spite Houses

"A spite house is a building constructed or modified to irritate neighbours or other parties with land stakes.  Spite houses often serve as obstructions, blocking out light or access to neighbouring buildings or as flamboyant symbols of defiance." 

We had a spite fence on our street for years.  One neighbour had asked the other neighbour for years to share the cost of building a fence and been turned down.  Then they had a fight and as revenge, the neighbour who had turned down the fence idea, built half a fence.  It remained that way for ten years until five years ago when the house was sold; a condition of the sale was that the other half of the fence be built.

However, I had never heard of a spite house until today when I read about it on Facebook.  Here are some famous spite houses:


1.  The Skinny House in Boston, Massachusetts is "the narrowest house in Boston" according to The Boston Globe (

2.  Marblehead, Massachusetts circa 1912.  This house was the result of two brothers arguing over an inheritance (

3.  Alameda Spite House was built after the landowner had a large portion of his property taken away by the city to build a street (

4.  Montlake Spite House, Seattle, Washington.  The owner's neighbour made an insulting low offer on the piece of land so he built an ugly house on it to spite him (

5.  O'Reilly Spite House, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The owner wanted his next door neighbour to buy a piece of his land.  The neighbour refused and the owner built this 308 square foot building (

6.  "Freeport Spite House" was built to block the route of Lena Avenue in Freeport, New York (

7.  The McCobb Spite House in Maine was built as a result of a dispute between two brothers.  Thomas Mccobb assumed his father would leave his house to him in his will.  However, while Thomas was at sea, the father gave the house to his stepbrother.  Thomas built this spite house right across the street from the original house (

8.  The Taylor Spite House in Maryland was built when Dr. John Taylor learned that the city wanted to extend Record Street to meet up with another street.  He found out about an ordinance preventing road construction if work was in progress on a substantial building in the road's path (

9.  The Hollensbury Spite House, Alexandria, Virginia, was built in 1830 by the owner of the adjacent house to prevent people from using the alleyway next door (

10.  Unknown spite house circa 1920's (

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