While it’s true that neighborly grudges are far from a new concept in society, these people took their grudges to a whole new level of petty. If you haven’t heard of spite houses yet, oh boy are you in for a treat! Seriously, back in the days before cities started enforcing strict building codes, these masters of begrudgery used freakin’ houses as weapons – and we’re not talking about just painting their fences bright colors to annoy the neighbor, they built whole houses to tick people off. So, if you love juicy neighborhood drama and historical architectural oddities, this one’s for you! From the pie-shaped spite house Seattle to the alley-blocking abode in Alexandria and more, we have all the deets on these dedicated neighbors who graduated to legendary status in spiteful.
What Is a Spite House?
As the intro says, a spite house describes a residence that was constructed solely out of spite for a neighbor. There are several spite houses located throughout the U.S., all of which have their own interesting, and fairly amusing, stories – typically involving a squabble over land.
Montlake Spite House Seattle
Call it a slice of paradise or the ultimate display of sweet revenge against a neighborhood nuisance – either way, the pie house Seattle at 2022 24 Ave East has kept locals speculating it origins for decades. Located in the Montlake neighborhood, this Seattle spite house was built in 1925. It features 2-bedrooms and 1.75 bathrooms.
Given its unusual shape, the house only measures 860 square feet of living space. The widest part of the home is 15 feet wide, while the narrowest tapers down to 55 inches wide, meaning you can actually touch your hands to both sides of the home in some parts of the residence. This is what sparked all the “woman builds 4 foot wide house” headlines.
There are several legends regarding the reason for the home’s construction, one of them being that a German gent who owned the 3,090-square-foot plot back then agreed to let someone build a house on the land. Upon returning from a trip to Germany, however, the landowner realized his new tenant had built a way bigger house than expected. As a way to get a little payback, the landowner took the small amount of land he had left on the plot and built the pie house. Another legend, and by far the most popular version that’s made headlines, was that it was the result of a nasty divorce. A couple divorces and the husband get to keep the house, while the ex-wife gets a measly little patch of land located in the home’s front yard. Making the most of it, while also getting back at the ex, this lady actually builds a house in her ex-husband’s front yard! This is revenge on an epic scale. One of the final theories, and the one that former homeowner Lisa Horton believes, is that a person that resided in the neighboring home offered to buy the triangular plot in hopes of making a garden, but they offered such a ridiculously low price that the landowner refused the offer and then proceeded to build the pie house just to tick their neighbor off and block their beloved view.
The pie house hit the market first back in 2014 for $375k, and then was listed again in 2016 for $519k, but it ended up selling for $19k less. As of 2018, however, the home was back on the market for a whopping $600k.
Other Spite Houses
While the pie house in Seattle is one of the more popular stories of spiteful real estate, it’s definitely not the only house of its type.
Spite House Alexandria: Hollensbury Spite House
Built in 1830, this slender structure located on Queen Street in the Old Town district of Alexandria, Virginia, is considered a historical landmark to locals of the area. It measures to a narrow 7-feet in width and 25-feet in depth.
The 2-story home boasts a whopping 325-square foot of living space (for reference – a Kardashian closet is many times larger), and the place is so compact that the interior walls in the living room are actually made up of the neighboring homes’ exterior brick walls. The story behind this one is pretty simple – a man by the name of John Hollensbury, who owned one of the neighboring residences, absolutely despised the ally next to his home being open to loiterers and horse-drawn wagons so much that he built the tiny house as a means to block access. Inside the house, there are still traces of scrapes and gouges on the walls from passing wagons.
Alameda Spite House
Now this spite house is a bit different – instead of being inspired by a neighborly squabble, the mastermind behind this 10-foot-wide residence was getting back at the whole city! It all allegedly started when a gentleman by the name of Charles Froling inherited a plot of land and planned for it to be the site of his dream home in 1908. The city, however, had other plans – and with support from neighbors, they took possession of a large chunk of the land rightfully owned by Froling in order to build Crist Street.
As you can imagine, being left with a minuscule piece of the much larger plot he rightfully owned didn’t go over well with Froling. So, instead of packing up his bags and giving up the San Francisco Bay lot, he built a 20-foot high, 10-foot-wide home on the site, effectively blocking out the sunlight for one of his neighbors that supported the city’s decision to take the land in the first place. Another version of the story goes that it was a pair of siblings that inherited the plot and one of the siblings, in hopes of making a quick buck, sold much of the lot while his co-owning brother was out of town. In retaliation for what his sibling had done, the brother built a spite house with the rest of their land. Regardless of what really happened, the home still stands thanks to a public campaign that rescued the home from demolition.