A spite house is a house that was built only to annoy someone with it. A few examples.
This building known as "The Pink House" stands on Plum Island in a salt marsh. It was built by a man who wanted to annoy his wife with it.
He pledged to build his ex-wife a replica of the house they shared. But the ex-wife failed to say where it would be built – and so today it stands in a rather uninhabitable neighborhood. Salt water comes out of the pipes.
Al Ba'sa ("The Disfavor") in Beirut is an insanely narrow house (at the narrowest end only one wall). The only purpose of this construction: to block the view of the sea to the building behind it.
Most of us have probably had disagreements with our neighbors or have been annoyed by them. Normally, we might still seek dialogue or simply ignore the disagreements.
The people who built these Spite-Houses see it differently: They want to annoy their (ex-)neighbors, or people from their environment as much as possible. A spite house is a building that was built exclusively to piss someone off.
The house on Plum Island
We have already written about this house. It’s the result of a particularly messy divorce: In 1925, a man in Newburyport, Massachusetts, wanted a divorce. His wife, however, agreed only on one condition: that the man should build an exact replica of the house they shared for them.
The woman should have been a little more specific: The ex-husband built the house on Plum Island, which is largely made up of what’s called a salt marsh and is pretty much uninhabitable.
Al Ba'sa ("The Resentment") in Beirut
If the spite houses were not there to upset neighbors – or ex-partners – they often came into being because of family disputes: Such was the case with Al Ba'sa in Beirut, a very narrow house built only to reduce the value of the land behind it. It was built in 1954: two brothers had each inherited a piece of land.
Stupidly, the layout didn’t work out perfectly, because while one lot had room for a normal house, the other had a kind of peak that’s just 60 centimeters wide. Building a house there was absurd, but the man didn’t care: his building was designed solely to block his brother’s ocean view.
Candy Cane House in London
Sometimes it’s not the construction of a house that’s meant to upset others, sometimes it’s the decoration – or in this case, the paint job. Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring bought a house in Kensington for several million pounds and thought she could now do anything with it – including demolish it and build a new house.
Her neighbors saw it differently and objected. Lisle-Mainwaring tried to get the necessary permits anyway, but failed. What no one could stop her from doing, however, was a new coat of paint. To piss off the neighbors, the Englishwoman opted for a red and white stripe paint job. In 2017 she got her permit.
Macefield House in Seattle
Some spite houses don’t become such until the neighborhood below undergoes massive changes. This was also the case with the house of Edith Macefield, which became famous in 2006: A shopping center was to be built in her neighborhood – and despite a purchase offer of over a million dollars, the retiree did not want to sell her 108-year-old house.
At one point, the developers of the shopping center simply built around Edith Macefield’s house. But the rumors that this story inspired the animated film "Upstairs" are not true: production for the film began in 2004, two years before Macefield opposed the construction project. The house is still standing today.
Montlake Pie House in Seattle
What exactly happened at the Montlake Pie House is unclear. Allegedly, the owner of the property was offered a "ridiculously small" amount of money by a neighbor to enlarge his own garden. The landowner was so offended by this that he decided to build a house on top of the land.
Allegedly, he even painted the back of the house black to further spoil the view for the neighbors. And although the house looks normal from the front: The building has an unusual triangular shape: At its narrowest point, it’s just 1.4 meters wide, and at its widest, it’s more than 4.5 meters wide. The neighbors, who were supposed to be annoyed at the time, have moved out in the meantime.
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