Spite Houses Are Exactly What They Sound Like

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Of the many reasons one might build a house, spite may be the most petty (yet hilarious) one we've come across yet. But it seems that it's more common than you may think. There are a surprising number of houses that are widely known to have been built either to annoy a neighbor, block a view, out-do a relative or challenge a zoning law. Wanna see some of them?

Pictured above: The Hollensbury House in Alexandria, Virginia is seven feet wide and 25 feet deep, a total of just 325 square feet. The original owner John Hollensbury, who lived in the adjacent house, was tired of noisy people loitering in the alleyway so, in 1830, he enclosed it, creating the narrow home.

→ House Tour: Alexandria's Spite House

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Freeport Spite House: Disgruntled 19th century developer John Randall thought the city of Freeport, New York shouldn't be laid on a grid (as was the plan) so he retaliated by building this Victorian. This quickly-constructed house occupies a triangular plot of land meant to thwart the city's goal and it worked — to accommodate it, they had to divert straight streets.

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The Skinny House: The narrowest house in Boston is reportedly the result of some pretty serious sibling rivalry. According to legend, two brothers inherited this plot of land from their father. While one was away serving in the military, his brother built a huge house on the majority of the land. Not cool! When he returned home, the other brother taught him a lesson by building this narrow house to block his brother's light and ventilation.

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Alameda Spite House: There are several stories floating around about this California oddity. Firstly, in the early 20th century, the city of Alameda appropriated a large part of a plot of land which was part of Charles Froling's inheritance. He had planned to build a much larger home, but since the city built this road instead, Froling went ahead with his plans and built this narrow house and overhang out of spite.

Another version chalks this narrow house up to a feud among neighbors and says it was built in order to block views from the larger, violet house behind it. Can anyone in Alameda help us get to the bottom of this one?

Get the comprehensive list of revenge houses on Wikipedia.

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(Image credits: Mental Floss; Wikipedia Commons; Wikipedia Commons; Wikipedia Commons)

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Jennifer is the Assistant Editor at Apartment Therapy where she spends her days writing and thinking about decor, food and fashion in NYC. Not too shabby.