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The Stories Behind the Most Petty Spite Houses Ever

Erected with much dysfunction.

by Claire Downs

Is it just us or are you also feeling a lot of rage and the urge to get completely petty these days? Perhaps it’s President Trump’s truly vindictive spirit and revenge-seeking behavior that has brought out the worst in us. Or, maybe we have a perfectly natural need to work out some aggression.

There are lots of healthy ways to work through anger. Some people go to the gym. Others meditate. Drake bought the house of his neighbor who complained about his noise. And some really, really angry people don’t just buy the house next door, they build a house to infuriate their neighbors. “Spite houses,” as they are known, are properties designed to block sunlight, a neighbor’s view, or challenge a city ordinance. Constructed with sheer malice, these oddly shaped and often useless buildings are an impressive display of human-on-human animosity. Here are the stories behind some of the greatest, most spiteful erections.

The Equality House

EqualityHouse April2016.jpg

Here’s one spite house we can all get behind: The Equality House in Topeka, Kan. If this property sounds familiar, it may be because the rainbow-painted house made headlines for its proximity to the hate-spewing Westboro Baptist Church and its HQ across the street. Through the organization Planting Peace, owner Aaron Jackson purchased the property to serve as housing and a venue for LGBTQ activists in the area. The home has hosted fundraisers, drag shows, and Trans rights events since 2014.

The Alameda Spite House

At 10 feet wide and 54 feet long, this beloved landmark of Alameda, Calif., is full of spite. Shaped like a bookmark, the owner constructed this home when city officials appropriated some of his land to build a street.  Still occupied today, the word “spite” is scrawled into the concrete stoop at the house’s entrance.

The Virginia City Spite House

Back in the 1950s, a Nevada miner built a lovely white house. Shortly after, his worst enemy moved in next to him. Upon finding out that he had purchased the plot of his work rival, the second miner decided to built his house 12 measly inches from the first miner’s house, cutting off ventilation and sunlight. We can only hope that their closeness made them eventually like each other? Yeah, probably not.

The Sam Kee Building

Some conflicts can be so shallow. How about 10 feet? Known as the shallowest building in the Guinness Book of World Records, the Sam Kee Building is a nice FU to the city of Vancouver. The Sam Kee Company owned a plot of land back in 1903. But, in 1912, the city decided to widen the street the plot was on. Sam Kee built anyway, just to stick it to the man, using pop-out windows over the sidewalk for extended width, and expanding a basement to include public baths!

The Stripey House

Striped house
Image via Nick Edwards

The saga of the Stripey House in Kensington has fascinated the UK over the last four years. Eccentric millionaire homeowner Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring wanted to build a basement extension to her £15 million townhouse. But, when the neighborhood council rejected her plans six times, she reacted by painting her place in candy cane stripes. To make the ordeal more mildly infuriating, Lisle-Mainwaring also left the top right stripe unfinished—sheer agony for any passersby with OCD. The legal battle raged on last summer, and Lisle-Mainwaring is now awaiting to either demolish or repaint the property thanks to two new lawsuits.

The Skinny House

Image via John Stephen Dwyer

Legend has it that this house in Boston was erected as the result of a squabble between two brothers as early as the 1870s. According to lore, one of the two bros got back from the Civil War to find that the other bro had built a house on their shared inherited property while he was away without consulting him. Rightfully pissed off, the returning bro built this extremely slim “house” to block his sibling’s natural light on the remaining feet of property.

Plum Island Pink House

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Image via
Jonathan Elcock

The subject of a haunting article in the New York Times last year, the Plum Island Pink House in Newburyport, Mass., inspires awe and nightmares. The house is nestled in the middle of a salt marsh in the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. The reason for the odd location? In 1925, a woman agreed to divorce her husband on the condition that he build an exact replica of the house they lived in. Because she didn’t specify a location in the divorce papers, her ex built the house on the salt water marsh, so she would not have access to fresh water.


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Claire Downs is a writer and comedian based out of Los Angeles. She's written for Nickelodeon, VH1, Funny or Die, and Hello Giggles. You can follow her on Twitter @clairecdowns. She prefers Indica to Sativa, in case you're wondering.



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