Spite Houses: The Architectural Monuments to People's Grudges
We've previously told you about the Hollensbury Spite House of Alexandria, Virginia. It turns out that building houses for no reason other than to make someone else's life harder is a whole thing people do with some regularity. Most of them -- like the Old Spite House of Marblehead, Massachusetts, the McCobb Spite House in Maine, and the Skinny House in Boston -- were built to block an antagonistic relative's view, usually following a dispute over the inherited land. The original Waldorf Hotel was actually a spite house, built to annoy William Waldorf Astor's aunt because, at that level of wealth, you truly have nothing better to do with your time.
Another common spite house theme is landowners, offended that a neighbor refused to buy their adjoining small plot of land or offered an insultingly low price, building inconvenient structures on the plot as a sales tactic, often resulting in hilariously tiny homes, and not the HGTV kind. The Sam Kee Building in Vancouver, which is the narrowest commercial building in the world and somehow houses various offices and shops, falls into this genre of spite house. Another houses an interior design firm in West Cambridge, Massachusetts (you might have noticed that state popping up quite a bit, committed as they are to all manner of jerkery):
Disputes with the city are another common reason to build a spite house, like when Charles Froling built a narrow house on his tiny remaining plot of land in Alameda, California after the city claimed most of it, John Randall built a full Victorian mansion seemingly overnight on a triangular plot of land in Freeport, New York because the city was planning to convert to a grid system and grids apparently killed his parents, and Dr. John Tyler took advantage of a legal loophole that required the city of Frederick, Maryland to stop construction of a road planned to bisect his land by building a house in its path. Even now, the road just stops there:
But nobody can beat the Pink House of (where else?) Newbury, Massachusetts, which was allegedly built by a man whose ex-wife insisted he built her an exact replica of their home. She didn't say where, though, so he built it in the middle of a marsh. "Hope you like saltwater, bitch," her lawyer was presumably forced to relay to her.
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