Holding a Grudge? Spite Houses Might Be for You

published Aug 2, 2021
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You might have heard of the infamous Skinny House in Boston, a form of cathartic architecture (catharchitecture?) that captures sibling rivalry at its finest.

A father died and left his two sons a plot of land in the city’s North End, and upon returning from the Civil War, one of the sons discovered that his brother had built a large house that took up most of the plot. Naturally, the son with the tiny remaining plot built the Skinny House, effectively blocking sunlight and his brother’s sweet Boston Harbor views.

Or perhaps you’ve heard of the Hollensbury House in in Alexandria, Virginia, an alley-sized house built for the sole purpose of keeping noisy neighborhood visitors out of an alley next to owner John Hollensbury’s house.

A recent Twitter thread has brought these petty-yet-genius architectural triumphs — better known as spite houses — back into the limelight, and introduced a few new ones to the conversation.

Here, for example, is another sibling-view-blocking skinny home situation, this time in Beirut:

And there are multiple spiteful origin stories to this pie-shaped Seattle home. One involves a bitter divorce settlement , and two others involve good old-fashioned plot-sharing, view-blocking drama.

There’s also the cow house in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Yes, people do drive by and “moo.”) The house was painted with black and white spots to get a reaction out of the homeowner’s father and mother, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

And this house in Connecticut looks more like a multi-tier wedding cake than a typical New England house. It was built by Gaylordsville resident Jan Pol as a protest on state authorities, who took away Pol’s custody of the baby of his teenage foster daughter due to allegations that Pol was the baby’s father. Pol rejected the allegations and, according to reporting from the News Times, published a soft-cover book titled “Jan Pol: The Passage of My Life,’‘ in 1977, which gives his version of the story.

For history buffs and fans of drama alike, these spaces will make any grudge you’re still holding seem small — or they might inspire your next move.