When it comes to homeowner disputes, don’t get mad – get even. These “spite houses” are what happens when neighborly disagreements go too far. In this case your weapons are architecture and a bucket of paint. They go a LOT farther than you would think.
The Hollensbury House
How do you prevent people from using the alleyway next to your house in 1830s Virginia? Well, you ask them nicely. Or you can put up a sign. You can even try to get over it and realize that people are going to walk through the alley. But if you have enough money and spite, you can do what this man did: he built a house in the seven-foot-wide alley. Sure it’s narrow, but it’s also cute.
The Rainbow House
The Westboro Baptist Church is known nation-wide for its anti-gay activities, which range incredibly from protesting soldier’s funerals to visiting college campuses with poster objecting to homosexuality. One activist group decided to make the ultimate protest against Westboro by purchasing a house across the street from the church and painting it rainbow, to resemble the Gay Pride flag. Now the congregation has to see the ultimate gay symbol when they visit the church.
The Tyler Spite House
This mansion, which was built in 1814, is actually up for sale. A local doctor was upset that the town wanted to build a road going right through his property, so he built a mansion in that spot instead. He ordered the foundation be poured just in time to prevent the construction of the road, which today turns into a one-way street to get around the house.
Cape Cod, Mass.
This house is a historic part of town, which is why the home owners were denied permits to update various part of it. After repeated rejections, the couple painted the house shocking shades of lime green and citrus yellow (painting being one update that does not require a permit). The couple maintains that the paint job was not done out of anger, but a belief in “private property rights.” The neighbors maintain that the colors are “hideous” and “not what’s appropriate.”
The Bosom Neighbots Spite House
Virginia City, Nevada
Most people want to get as far away from their enemies as possible. But one man’s hate was so strong, he got as close as he could, instead. After his enemy bought a house in Nevada, this man bought the lot next door. Instead of simply building a house, he built the house directly up against the property line – nearly touching his neighbor’s house at only one foot apart. As a result, the house block’s his enemy’s view, and cuts off his ventilation on that side of the home.
For a short time, this revenge paint job was actually kind of cheerful. The city of Lubock clashed with the landlord of this house when he allowed unrelated tenants to live there together. The landlord’s miffed response was to paint the brick house a bright purple, decaroated with carious black and yellow circles that also turn into smiley faces and the silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head. Today the house is back to its original color since the landlord and city came to a settlement, but we still have the pictures.
The Old Spite House
As most intense fights do, this tale begins with brothers. The official story has been lost over time, but consensus is that the house was occupied by a pair of brothers who inherited the house. One brother became angry, and specifically built his half of the house to block his brother’s view. That as good an explanation as any for this eyesore of a building; it could only have been created from some ugly anger issues.
Victims of the Economy
Edenton, North Carolina
This home was reportedly foreclosed upon when the owners – a developmental company – decided to make a statement about the economy to the bank. The statement, however, has to be interpreted through art. The company painted their house yellow, with a purple trash can and shutters, and nailed hubcaps to their trees and fence posts. After the neighbors complained to the town officials, the homeowners acquiesced by covering the paint job with white spray paint. Good as new, almost.
The Skinny House
This is another house built from the anger of rival brothers. When one brother built himself a nice big house on the land he was supposed to be sharing with his sibling, the other brother returned home from military service to exact revenge. He built the skinny house to block the sunlight from his brother’s house, even though after construction the home was built so oddly it was wider in the front than in the back. Hopefully robbing his brother of daylight was worth it.
It’s hard to tell if this house was built out of spite, or whimsy. When the city originally bought the block of land, intending to build a street, the man who owned the remaining bit of lot decided to build a house, too. He didn’t seem to mind that there was only space to build a 10-foot wide house. 100 years later, the house is still standing.
Polka Dot Protest
Avondale Estates, Georgia
After being denied permission to alter the front steps to his home, this homeowner decided to lash out against the Historic Preservation Commission where it would hurt. He painted his house neon green with purple spots. Instead of complaining, the man’s neighbors even painted purple dots on their houses out of sympathy. Eventually all was put to rights when the mayor overruled the decision, allowing the man to change his front steps.
The Cambridge Spite House
People in Massachusetts really like to use their architecture as vengeance. This house has been up since 1908, when it was built by Francis O’Reilly. O’Reilly grew angry at his neighbor’s refusal to buy his small piece of land, so he build this 8-foot wide house. An interior designed currently takes residence there, happily using the space for her work.