18th-Century Soldier’s Brother Steals His Land, So He Builds Tiny House As Revenge

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

We all know what it’s like to have a lousy neighbor.

Whether it’s the girls in the apartment down the hall who blast music at all hours, or the guy in the lot next door who is taking a moral stand on the half-dead tree on his property line, it can be real bummer.

But for a handful of unfortunate souls, property disputes are far from minor inconveniences. They can turn into shocking battles played out in the theater of public opinion.

There are plenty of extreme cases, like the man who destroyed his own house in a fit of pique when he couldn’t get a permit. But there’s a far more common response to property disputes, one that’s as peculiar as it is vindictive.

They’re called “Spite Houses.” And they’re just as fascinating — and sometimes petty — as the name implies.

Generally arising from property disputes between neighbors, divorcing couples, and even siblings, these are houses built and situated to deliberately inconvenience another… and the stories behind them are amazing.

What do you think of these interesting “Spite Houses?” Let us know in the comments below!


Alexandria, VA

Alexandria, VA

One of the most famous spite houses is the Hollensbury House in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The owner of a brick house in the area was sick and tired of people using the alleyway next to his house as a convenient shortcut for wagons and spot for loitering.

To solve the problem, he built a house so tiny that it shared its walls with the homes on either side. It’s still occupied today.

Marblehead, MA

Marblehead, MA

While there have probably been similar structures for centuries, one of the earliest examples on record is the “Old Spite House” in Marblehead, MA.

Built around 300 years ago, the local legend is that two brothers inherited the house, but didn’t get along.

They lived in separate areas, until one decide to build a structure to deliberately block his brother’s view, possibly of the tavern next door.

Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA

This one is less a “spite house” than it is an honorable mention.

This is the home of a woman named Edith Macefield, one of the most famous real estate hold-outs of all time.

She was offered $1 million to sell her Seattle home and make room for a new development, but she staunchly refused.

Instead, the development was built around her home, and preserved as is after Macefield’s death in 2008.

New York, NY

New York, NY

The Richardson Spite House in New York City was destroyed in 1915, but that hasn’t put a damper on its fascinating history.

Built in 1882, it was only 5 feet across and 4 stories tall. It was built after a land-deal for the lot it occupied fell through.

The owner, who didn’t get the price he had asked for, built it to get back at his stingy neighbor.

Montlake, WA

Montlake, WA

There’s a similar story behind the Montlake Spite House in Washington State.

In the 1920s, the owner of the larger house pictured offered to buy a tiny adjoining lot, but offered a low price that offended the owner.

To prove that the lot was worth something, a tiny house was built, one that is owned and occupied to this day.

Frederick, MD

Frederick, MD

The Tyler Spite House in Maryland is named after its creator, a well-known eye doctor by the name of John Tyler.

He was about to lose a plot of land to a planned road extension project back in 1814.

Rather than see his land overtaken by the town, he chose to establish a house, effectively stymieing their plans.

Alameda, CA

Alameda, CA

The tale behind the Alameda Spite House is a bit more frustrating in nature, at least for the man who built it.

Around 1900, Charles Froling inherited some land from his parents, and planned to build a big, beautiful home.

Unfortunately, the city claimed most of it for a street, leaving him with a tiny parcel.

He built the house anyway, a 10-foot wide property that is still lived in today.

Boston, MA

Boston, MA

Massachusetts really had a love for the architectural rebuke; there are dozens on record.

This one was one of the more famous: a narrow structure in Boston’s North End known as the “Skinny House.”

Another tale of brother against brother, two brothers inherited a piece of land. One left with the navy, and the other built a large home in his absence.

When he returned, the other brother took the remaining land and built a house anyway, less than 10 feet wide at its narrowest point.

If you’re fascinated by these charming, but utterly-bizarre structures, make sure to SHARE on Facebook for anyone who loves a weird historical mysteries, or who might have a spite house of their own to build!