A spite house is a
buildinggenerally found in an urban environment that is constructed or modified because someone that the builder feels has wronged him does not want it there. Typically built to annoy someone, in most cases a neighbor, these buildings serve primarily as obstructions, blocking out light or access to neighboring buildings, or as flamboyant symbols of defiance.Kelly, John. (March 26, 2006) Washington Post" [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/25/AR2006032500903.html Answer Man: In Search Of Houses That Spite Built.] " Page C02.] [United States National Park Service (1960) " [http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/me/me0000/me0074/data/002.tif Historical American Building Survey: Spite (McCobb-Dodge) House - Page 2.] " Accessed March 20, 2008.] Because actually inhabiting such structures is usually a secondary goal at most, they often have strange and impractical layouts. Once the reason it was constructed or modified is publicized, area locals begin referring to the house or commercial building as a spite house.
Probably the most famous spite house was the Richardson Spite House in
New York Cityat Lexington Avenueand 82nd street. Built in 1882 New York Times(March 28, 1895) ' [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=980DEEDE133DE433A2575BC2A9659C94649ED7CF Sues for Dower Rights; Louise Ann Burl's Claims as Capt. Richardson's Widow.] Page 3.] and demolished in 1915, it was four stories tall, 104 feet (31.7 m) long, and only five feet (1.5 m) wide. Joseph Richardson, the owner of the plot of the same dimensions, built it after the owner of the adjacent plot, Hyman Sarner, unsuccessfully tried to purchase the land. Sarner considered the plot useless by itself and offered only $1000; Richardson demanded $5000. After the deal fell through, Richardson had an apartment building constructed on his land. It was a functional (if impractical) apartment building, with eight suites each consisting of three rooms and a bath. [ [http://www.nyc-architecture.com/GON/GON005.htm The story of the Richardson Spite House.] ]
spite fences, spite houses are rare. This is in part a result of malicious-erection statutes directed at adjoining landowners. Connecticut, for example, has since 1867 provided legal and equitable relief for the malicious erection of "any building or structure." [Connecticut Trial Court Official Decisions. (March 4, 2003) " [http://news.google.com/archivesearch?hl=en&q=The+1867+statute+provided+legal+and+equitable+relief+for+the+malicious+erection+of+%E2%80%9Cany+building+or+structure&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tab=wn Dalton v. Bua, 47 Conn. Supp. 645.] " Accessed March 20, 2008.] Modern building codeslargely prevent disputes being addressed by building obstructions to others' use and enjoyment of their land.
*In 1716, Thomas Wood, a sail maker, built a home in
Marblehead, Massachusettsthat subsequently received the sobriquetof The Old Spite House. One theory has it that it was inhabited by two brothers who occupied different sections, wouldn't speak to each other, and refused in spite to sell to the other. [ Boston Globe(October 14, 1984) "The challenge of renovating Marblehead's Spite House, where children and pets live harmoniously with antiques." Section: Special. The Old Spite House is located at Orne St & Gas House Ln, Marblehead, MA 01945.] In another explanation for the presently occupied, ten-foot (3 m) wide home that is just tall enough to block the view of two other houses on Orne Street, the builder was upset about his tiny share of his father's estate and his revenge was a house to spite his older brothers' views.Miller, Margo. (October 17, 1986) Boston Globe" [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=BG&p_theme=bg&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EADEDADCCCC84EF&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D Living by the sea - Boston's waterfront homes on tour.] " Section: At home; Page 29.] The Old Spite House still is standing and occupied.
*In 1806, Thomas McCobb, heir to his father's
Phippsburg, Maineland and shipbuilding business, returned home from sea to discover that his stepbrother Mark had inherited the family "Mansion in the Wilderness".Brand, Andrea. (2007) camaronal-cr.com. " [http://www.camaronal-cr.com/phippsburg/history.htm Phippsburg.info - History.] " Accessed March 19, 2008. Present Location: McCobb Spite House, Deadman's Point, Rockport, Maine 04488.] Upset about his loss, McCobb built a home directly across from the McCobb mansion to spite his stepbrother. The National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Surveyphotographed and documented the 1925 move of the McCobb Spite House by barge from Phippsburg to Deadman's Point in Rockport, Maine. [ [http://www.mainememory.net/bin/Detail?ln=21415 Phippsburg Spite House on Its Way to Rockport, Maine 1925.] ] [ Library of Congress. Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey. " [http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.me0074 "Spite" House, Deadman's Point (moved from Phippsburg, ME), Rockport vicinity, Knox County, ME.] "] [ [http://www.phippsburg.com/Community/Attractions/Autotourguide.PDF phippsburg.com attractions.] ]
*In 1814, Dr. John Tyler, an eminent
ophthalmologistand the first American-born physician to perform a cataract operation owned a parcel of land near the courthouse square in Frederick, Maryland.Williams, N. (April 29, 1990) Los Angeles Times"This Maryland House was built just for spite." Section: travel; Page 14. Location: Tyler Spite House, 112 W Church St, Frederick, MD 21701.] The city made plans to extend Record Street south through Tyler's land to meet West Patrick Street. In fighting the city, Tyler discovered a local law that prevented the building of a road if work was in progress on a substantial building in the path of a proposed road. To spite the city, Tyler immediately had workmen pour a building foundation, which was discovered by the road crews the next morning. The Tyler Spite House now operates as a bed and breakfastbusiness.
*In 1830, John Hollensbury's home in
Alexandria, Virginiawas one of two homes directly bordering an alleywaythat received an annoying amount of horse-drawn wagon traffic and loiterers.Bailey, Steve. (February 29, 2008) The New York Times" [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/29/travel/escapes/29away.html A Tiny, Beloved Home That Was Built for Spite.] " Section: F; Page F6. Location: 523 Queen St, Alexandria, VA 22314.] To prevent people from using the alleyway, Hollensbury constructed a convert|7|ft|m|adj=on wide, convert|25|ft|m|adj=on deep, convert|325|sqft|m2|adj=on, two-story home using the existing brick walls of the adjacent homes for the sides of the new home. The brick walls of the Hollensbury Spite House living room have gouges from wagon-wheel hubs and the house still is standing and occupied.
*In 1874, two brothers in the North End of
Boston, Massachusettsgot into a dispute.Cronin, Jim. (February 13, 2005) " The Boston Globe" " [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=BG&p_theme=bg&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=1084B8C466E72E43&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D Living sideways down a skinny alley through a side front door.] " Section: City Weekly; Page 1. Location: 44 Hull St, Boston, MA 02113.] Boston Globe(November 21, 1997) " [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=BG&p_theme=bg&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EADDCDC64EE5D0C&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D Ask the Globe.] " Section: National/Foreign; Page C22.] Each had previously inherited land from their deceased father. While the second brother was away serving in the military, the first brother built a large home, leaving the soldier only a shred of property that the first brother felt certain was too tiny to build on. When the soldier returned, he found his inheritance depleted and built a wooden house at 44 Hull St. to spite his brother by blocking the sunlight and ruining his view. The outside of the house spans convert|10.4|ft|m and tapers to convert|9.25|ft|m in the rear. The Skinny Housestill is standing and occupied.
*In 1880, Adam Schilling owned a tract of convert|80|acre|0 adjoining the town of
Hiawatha, Kansas.Ames, James Barr; Smith Jeremiah. (1893) " [http://books.google.com/books?id=Rn49AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA730&dq=defendant+conceived+the+oppressive+and+unlawful+idea+of+rendering+plaintiff%27s+home+obnoxious+and+unendurable+to+himself+and+family A Selection of Cases on the Law of Torts.] " Page 730.] Schilling sold three-fourths of an acre of this land, on which a house eventually was built and became owned by James Falloon. Together, the eighty acres were well-suited to be added to the town of Hiawatha, but Falloon refused to sell Schilling his three-fourths of an acre at the low price offered by Schilling. To spite his neighbor, Schilling then built a cheap tenement house on his own property convert|13|ft|m from Falloon's with the "oppressive and unlawful idea of rendering Falloon's home obnoxious and unendurable to Falloon and family" by renting to people Falloon might find objectionable.
*In 1882, after the owner of the adjacent plot, Hyman Sarner, unsuccessfully tried to purchase Joseph Richardson's land, Richardson built the famed Richardson Spite House in
New York, New Yorkthat was demolished in 1915.
*Prior to 1898, a home was erected in
Salem, Massachusettsto "cut off the view of a neighbor". The New York Times(April 4, 1898) " [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=950DEED61638E433A25757C0A9629C94699ED7CF&oref=slogin Topics of the times.] " Page 6. ( [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=950DEED61638E433A25757C0A9629C94699ED7CF Abstract] ).] After the owner died, his heirs agreed in 1898 to have the Salem Spite House torn down to avoid a "vexatious lawsuit with the obnoxious neighbor".
*In the 19th century, a Collinsville, Connecticut butcher feuded with his neighbor.Hirsh, Linda B. (April 17, 1994)
Hartford Courant" [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/access/114533018.html?dids=114533018:114533018&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Apr+17%2C+1994&author=Linda+B.+Hirsh%3B+Courant+Staff+Writer&pub=Hartford+Courant&desc=WALKING+TOUR+PUTS+THE+TRAVELER+IN+19TH+CENTURY+COLLINSVILLE Walking Tour Puts the Traveler in 19th-Century Collinsville.] " Section: Town News Extra; Page H1.] To spite his neighbor, the butcher built between their adjoining houses a narrow, two-story structure with windows covered by Venetian blinds. The wooden building located between 23 and 25 River St. was the width of a standard stairway and allowed the butcher to block the sun to the neighbor's home and block the neighbor's view of the butcher's property at will. [Hirsh, Linda B. (April 17, 1994) Hartford Courant" [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/access/114533021.html?dids=114533021:114533021&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Apr+17%2C+1994&author=Linda+B.+Hirsh%3B+Courant+Staff+Writer&pub=Hartford+Courant&desc=THE+CANTON+TIME+MACHINE+BUT+THERE+ARE+SOME+PLACES+THAT+CAN+ONLY+BE+REMEMBERED The Canton Time Machine; But There Are Some Places That Can Only Be Remembered.] " Section: Town News Extra; page H1.] The butcher's son got along with the family next door and eventually tore down the Collinsville Spite House. Also in the 19th century, a Freeport, New Yorkdeveloper who opposed all of Freeport being laid out in a grid, put up a Victorian house virtually overnight on a triangular plot at the corner of Lena Avenue and Wilson Place to spite the grid designers.Mason-Dtaffen, Carrie. (March 30, 1997) Newsday"Living In - Diversity Freely Spices Freeport." Section: Life; Page E25. The Freeport Spite House is located at the intersection of: Wilson Place, Long Beach Avenue, and Lena Avenue in Freeport, New York.] [Also see, Long Island Memories Collection : Item Viewer. (Accessed March 25, 2008) [http://18.104.22.168/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/fml&CISOPTR=373&CISOBOX=1&REC=4 Five Corners, Freeport, L.I.] .] The Freeport Spite House still is standing and occupied.
* "Neighbor against neighbor; Mediators can resolve disputes." Section: People, Page B3. The Alameda Spite House is located at Broadway & Crist St, Alameda, CA 94501.] To spite the city and an unsympathetic neighbor, Froling built a house convert|10|ft|m wide, convert|54|ft|m long and convert|20|ft|m high on the tiny strip of land left to him. The Alameda Spite House still is standing and occupied.
*In 1904, the family of a deceased Joseph Edleston owned a plot of land next to the
churchyardof St. Mary's in Gainford, England.Lloyd, Chris. (January 5, 2005) The Northern Echo" [http://www.northeasthistory.co.uk/the_north_east/history/echomemories/darlington/105/050105.html Echo Memories - Offeuds and fiefdoms in little Gainford.] " Page 8.] . The children asked to erect a monument in the churchyardin memory of Joseph's 41-year tenure at the church. The church refused permission, asserting that the churchyard was full but that the family could donate their land to the church and then build a monument on part of it. Feeling slighted, the family immediately set about building themselves a house on their land with a convert|40|ft|m|adj=on column erected next to the churchyard so it towered over the trees and pointed a huge V-sign in stone towards the church authorities. The Edleston Spite House still is standing and occupied and has MCMIV (1904) over the front door.
*In 1908, Francis O'Reilly owned an investment parcel of land in West Cambridge, Massachusetts and approached his abutting land neighbor to sell the land for a gain.Bloom, Jonathan. (February 2, 2003)
Boston Globe" [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=BG&p_theme=bg&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0F907F2342522B5D&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D Existing by the Thinnest of Margins. A Concord Avenue Landmark Gives New Meaning to Cozy.] " Section: City Weekly; Page 11. Location: 260 Concord Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138.] After the neighbor refused to buy the land, O'Reilly built a convert|308|sqft|m2|adj=on building, measuring convert|37|ft|m long and only convert|8|ft|m wide to spite the neighbor. The O'Reilly Spite House still is standing and is occupied by The Real Estate Cafe.
*Prior to 1914, the Austro-Hungarians who ruled
Sarajevoin Bosnia and Herzegovinawanted land in the Sarajevo Old Town district to build a city hall and library.Barnett, Tracy. (June 25, 2006) San Antonio Express-News" [http://www.besttravelwriting.com/btw-blog/great-stories/second-annual-solas-awards-winners/destination-gold-winner-honey-and-blood/ Honey and blood.] " Section: Travel; Page 1L.] The land had a home on it and, despite offering the owner money, he refused and continued to refuse even when told that he had to move. When the officials threatened him, he moved the house and rebuilt it, piece by piece, on the other side of the Miljackariver, as a way of spiting the officials. The Sarajevo Spite House operates today as a restaurant is called "Inat Kuca" which means "Spite House".
*In 1925, a
Montlake, Seattle, Washingtonneighbor made an insultingly low offer for a tiny slice of adjoining land.Koss, Bill. (October 29, 2000) The Seattle Times"Homing in on the city of the $15,000 sofa What's really old, strange and expensive? These things." Section: Pacific Northwest; Page 4. Location: 2022 24th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112.] Out of spite for the low offer, the builder built an convert|860|sqft|m2|adj=on house that blocked the neighbors' open space. The house is convert|55|in|m wide at the south end and convert|15|ft|m wide at the north end. The Montlake Spite House still is standing and occupied.
*In the 1950s, two
Virginia City, Nevadaneighbors got into a dispute.Lonsford, Michael. (July 3, 1988) Houston Chronicle"Ghosts of Old West haunt Virginia City streets." Section: Travel; Page 1.] When one of the men built a new house, the other bought the lot next to it and built a house less than convert|12|in|cm from his neighbor's house in spite to deprive the neighbor of both view and breeze. The Virginia City Spite House still is standing and occupied.
*In 1985, a
Sunrise, Floridahomeowner painted his home hot pink and passionate purple to spite the city, which had given him several tickets for parking his glass company vans overnight in front of his home in violation of a city code related to residential night parking of commercial vehicles.Gayoso, Jay. (July 7, 1985) South Florida Sun-Sentinel"Sunrise man fighting color wars." Section: Local; Page 1B.] Characterized as a spite house painted in retaliation against the city, the pink and purple paint job was identified as the owner permitting graffiti or other inscribed materials to remain and likely violate the Sunrise city code section prohibiting eyesores that also were public nuisances. [Gayoso, Jay. (July 9, 1985) South Florida Sun-Sentinel"Paint job a protest against city code." Section: West, page 3. For descriptions of the Sunrise City's graffiti code violation, see [http://www.sunrisefl.gov/Building_CodeEnf.html Sunrise Code Enforcement Baker's Dozen] .]
The term "spite house" also relates to an old
Southern United Statescustom of consigning an ostracized family member to a very small, second house on the family land "where he was expected to live in solitude as punishment for having embarrassed his family." [Cragg, Dan. (March 22, 1997) Washington Times"Not the Garwood Marines remember." Section: Commentary Book Review. Page C3. ( review of Jensen-Stevenson, Monika. (June 1997) "Spite House: The Last Secret War in Vietnam." Publisher: Diane Pub Co. ISBN 075675013X]
Cutting off the nose to spite the face
Sam Kee Building
* Spite pole - One or more vertical poles arbitrarily erected by a landowner to try to prevent aircraft from flying over their land in a dispute over
The Smallest House in Great Britain
* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/czelticgirl/2294711461/in/set-122443/ Prospect Avenue Spite House] of 1880 in
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, shown [http://www.flickr.com/photos/czelticgirl/2294714121/ here] , is item no. 21 on [http://people.msoe.edu/~reyer/mke/downtown_east.pdf this Milwaukee Historical Building map] , and discussed [http://people.msoe.edu/~reyer/mke/1874d.html here] .
* [http://www.nyc-architecture.com/GV/GV043NarrowestHouse.htm 75 1/2 Bedford] (9 1/2 ft. wide located at 75 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014.) [For a fictional story centered on the house, see McGovern, Ann. Gerberg, Mort. (February 1980) "Mr. Skinner's Skinny House" Publisher: Atheneum. ISBN 0027657302]
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