Tiny Spite Houses With Big Personality

spite houses


What does the tiny house community have to do with feuds between neighbors? Spite homes are architecturally unique houses that are often built tiny. It’s normal to see spite houses wedged into small, cramped, abnormal spaces, as they’re usually built as a way to annoy neighbors or lawmakers.

If you’ve ever been exploring a new city and noticed a house on a street corner or nestled between two much larger houses, its likely you’re looking at a spite home.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

As a guy who built his own tiny home from the ground up, unique buildings and architecture fascinate me. I first found out about spite houses while exploring Boston and have been interested in these small, quirky spaces ever since.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Are Spite Houses?

What Are Spite Houses

What makes spite homes unique is the intent behind why they were built. Spite homes are often built as a means to annoy neighbors who may have wronged the homeowner. Spite houses can serve as a block to sunlight or a pretty view, an architectural eye sore, or a mere inconvenience.

Years after their invention, this unique genre of infrastructure has become a recognizable tourist destination in cities across the country.

Do People Still Live In Spite Houses Today?

While many famous spite homes were built in the 18th and 19th century, they are used today in a plethora of ways. Some of these famous spite homes belong to single residents or families who likely paid a large sum of money to own such a historical landmark.

Spite homes are also used as rental properties for tourists, office buildings for companies who want to occupy a small space, coffee shops and bars, accessory dwelling units, and a myriad of other ways. However, some famous spite homes, like the Plum Island Pink House, have been abandoned and is commonly rumored to be haunted.

Famous Spite House In Boston

Famous Spite House Boston Massachusetts

ADDRESS: 44 Hull Street in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts

Famously regarded by locals as The Skinny House, this small, greyish green house in downtown Boston was built as a spite house. The building was created in response to a feud between two brothers during the Civil War.

boston skinny house spite houseWhile no one knows exactly why the house was built, rumor has it that this home was created after two brothers inherited land from their father. While the first brother was off fighting in the war, the second brother built a house on the land that was meant to belong to both of them.

This, consequently, filled the first brother with a lot of spite. In 1862, he built The Skinny House to block his brother’s nice view of the city. I’ve had my fair share of arguments with my siblings, but none that resulted in funneling my rage into building an entire house!

In September 2021, The Skinny House sold for $1.25 million dollars despite being barely over 1,000 square feet. However, the quality of the home kept it in line with the current market in Boston.

Northend Spite House Boston Exterior

This sage green spite house sits between two much larger red brick buildings in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. At its widest point, the house measures at about 10 feet wide, but only about 6.2 feet wide at its narrowest point.

The back of the house is adorned with a gorgeous private garden protected by an iron gate and wooden sign labeled “private.” While the house is not recognized as a historical site, its eclectic look pulls in tourists and onlookers.

boston spite house exterior

Northend Spite House Boston Interior

The inside of The Skinny House is quaint and charming. When visitors enter the home, they are met with a slim hallway that opens up into a dining area and kitchen nook.

On the second floor, you’ll find a living room, dining room, and bathroom. The third floor contains two bedrooms with huge windows to allow plenty of natural light.

boston spite house front room
boston spite house stairway
boston spite house second floor
boston spite house study room
boston spite house kitchen
boston spite house living room
boston spite house bedroom
boston spite house bunkbeds

Spite House In Alexandria, Virginia

Spite House In Alexandria Virginia

ADDRESS: 523 Queen Street in Alexandria, Virginia

Located in Alexandria, Virginia, this spite house is the narrowest house in North America and one of the narrowest in the world. Built out of spite by John Hollensbury, this home is infamous around the world.

As the story goes, Hollensbury grew increasingly annoyed by horse-drawn carriages coming down the street and ramming into the side walls of his home. To push back against this, Hollensbury decided to build a skinny house in the alley gap to keep carriages out.

Hollensbury Spite House In Alexandria Exterior

This narrow, bright blue brick home is nestled between two larger brick houses. The home is crested with a silver plaque demonstrating its historical significance, and the windows and doors are trimmed in a light cream and beige hue. Locals and tourists alike know this home is worth visiting when they pass through Alexandria.

alexandria virginia spite house vintage photo
alexandria virginia spite house exterior


Hollensbury Spite House In Alexandria Interior

The interior of the Alexandria spite house includes a long hallway with bright yellow walls. A narrow wooden staircase leads up to two bedrooms and a bathroom on the top level. Red wooden floors run throughout the home.

alexandria virginia spite house living room
alexandria virginia spite house stairs
alexandria virginia spite house bedroom
alexandria virginia spite house interior

Alameda Spite House

Alameda California Spite House

ADDRESS: 2528 Crist Street in Alameda, California

Located in Alameda, California, this home was built as a way for the original owner to get back at the city. His fury started when the City of Alameda took part of his land away without his permission to expand city property.

Upon hearing this news, the owner, Charles Froling, was beyond devastated. Froling originally had plans to build his dream home along the bay and live out the rest of his life on this land. His frustration at the City’s actions led him to build the most out of place house he could envision on the piece of land that still belonged to him.

You would be hard-pressed to find someone in Alameda who doesn’t know about this spite house. Today, the Alameda spite house is used as a rental property for those who want to experience the unique architecture it has to offer.

Alameda Spite House Exterior

This robin’s egg blue home sits next to a much larger house in Alameda, its entrance facing the side of the street. One fun feature of the Alameda spite house is its ornate entrance.

The stained-glass window above the doorway actually says “spite” in a myriad of colors. The ceiling of the front porch is painted a light grey and is lined with golden stars. Next to the home, a decorative wicker basket hangs in the branches of a lanky tree.

alameda california spite house exterior front door
alameda california spite house exterior view
alameda california spite house outside
alameda california spite house exterior

Alameda Spite House Interior

The inside of the Alameda spite house is gorgeous as well. The main floor contains a fairly spacious living room and kitchen, with side windows and a small breakfast nook. After walking up the narrow stairway, you’ll come to two more bedrooms each large enough to hold a queen-sized bed. The current owners, who rent out the spite house as an eclectic getaway, have included a washer and dryer in the upstairs hallway.

alameda california spite house living room
alameda california spite house kitchen
alameda california spite house interior
alameda california spite house stairs
alameda california spite house dining room
alameda california spite house hallway
alameda california spite house bedroom
alameda california spite house master bedroom

O’Reilly Spite House In Cambridge

OReilly Spite House Cambridge Massachusetts

ADDRESS: 260 Concord Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The O’Reilly spite house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was originally built to satisfy a vendetta between neighbors. In 1908, Francis O’Reilly attempted to sell the land the house is built on to his neighbor. However, his neighbor wasn’t interested in buying his land, which sent O’Reilly into rage.

To show his disdain for his neighbor’s decision, O’Reilly built a tiny house on top of the land he was trying to sell. His attempt to get back at his neighbor has since become a recognizable tourist spot in West Cambridge.

O’Reilly Spite House In Cambridge Exterior

At the edge of the street corner, this dark green and brown, vine-covered spite house certainly makes heads turn. The 308-square-foot house is about 37 feet long and a mere 8 feet wide.

Since 2009, this skinny dwelling has lived on as the main office of a local interior decorating firm in Massachusetts — Annie Hall Interiors. Before that, the property was a fair-trade store called Abroad Modern.

cambridge massachusetts oreilly spite house

O’Reilly Spite House In Cambridge Interior

The interior of the O’Reilly spite house has been re-modeled by the interior decorating firm that currently owns it. The top floor of the spite house is used as an office for the firm, while the bottom has couches for customers to browse designs.

cambridge massachusetts spite house interior style
cambridge massachusetts spite house interior
cambridge massachusetts spite house office
cambridge massachusetts spite house inside view

Montlake Spite House in Seattle

Montlake Spite House Seattle Washington

ADDRESS: 2022 24th Avenue in the Montlake neighborhood of Seattle, Washington

In 1925, another neighborly feud served as the catalyst for the creation of the Montlake spite house. As the story goes, the original owner of the 3,090-square-foot parcel of land that the house was eventually built on was approached by his neighbor who wanted to buy this land.

His next-door neighbor, who had intentions of growing a garden on the property, offered a small sum of money for the land. Unfortunately, the landowner was deeply offended by his neighbor’s extremely cheap offer, so he decided to build a small home on the property to seek revenge.

Today, this tiny house is on the market for just over half a million dollars. That’s a bit over my personal budget, but I’m still inspired to visit this historically rich spite house someday!

Montlake Spite House in Seattle Exterior

This elongated, pie-shaped, yellow-green home with hues of cream is surrounded by rich landscaping and trees. It has stairs leading to an oval-shaped black door and is recognized by locals as a famous spite home in the area.

seattle washington spite house exterior


Montlake Spite House in Seattle Interior

The interior of the Seattle spite house contains a lavish kitchen complete with a quaint nook and small windows above the sink. The living room is filled with natural light and guarded by the oval-shaped, bright white door. The sunroom has a desk and chair, and leads into a small lofted bedroom. The second bedroom is large enough to fit a king bed.

seattle washington spite house living room
seattle washington spite house front room
seattle washington spite house interior
seattle washington spite house kitchen
seattle washington spite house dining table
seattle washington spite house table
seattle washington spite house master bedroom
seattle washington spite house bedroom
seattle washington spite house spare bedroom
seattle washington spite house bathroom

Georgetown Spite House in Washington, D.C.

Georgetown Spite House Washington DC

ADDRESS: 1239 30th St NW, Washington, D.C.

Located in Washington, D.C., the origin of the Georgetown spite house isn’t fully agreed upon. In 1933, an article in The Washington Post claimed that this spite house was built as a feud between neighbors, with the purpose of blocking light and air from being able to enter one neighbor’s windows. However, a letter to the editor refuted this claim, explaining the home was actually built by a widow as an annex to help support her children who has just lost their father.

Whatever the truth may be, this skinny house has certainly become a landmark in D.C. The Georgetown spite house was sold in 2015 for $1.135 million and was put back on the market in 2017 with a listing price of $1.295 million. Its most recent sale was on Jan. 18, 2022, when the house was purchased for $1.14 million.

Georgetown Spite House Exterior

The light gray Georgetown spite house is wedged between two larger brick homes. With one flat window and one that protrudes out from the building, the design of this spite home fills the building with lots of natural light. The house faces a gravel path surrounded by vine covered brick walls.

georgetown washington dc spite house exterior
georgetown washington dc spite house outside yard

Georgetown Spite House Interior

The interior of the Georgetown spite house is architecturally historic, with a great deal of charm. The red wood floors, white walls, and charcoal black chimney surround a very open floorplan on the lower level. The house is complete with a kitchen, living room, sun room, and multiple bedrooms.

georgetown washington dc spite house stairs
georgetown washington dc spite house hallway
georgetown washington dc spite house kitchen
georgetown washington dc spite house kitchen countertop
georgetown washington dc spite house dining room
georgetown washington dc spite house study room
georgetown washington dc spite house sunroom
georgetown washington dc spite house sunroom entrance
georgetown washington dc spite house back room
georgetown washington dc spite house third floor window

1.8m Wide House in Tokyo, Japan, by YUUA Architects

One Point Eight Meter Wide House in Tokyo Japan

ADDRESS: Shiga, Tokyo

This home may have not been built in spite, but its narrow architecture leaves a remarkable impression on those who visit this Tokyo structure. The gorgeous, skinny house was created by Japanese studio YUUA Architects & Associates as a creative architectural endeavor.

The narrow home was sold to a single resident and their pet cat in the most populated municipality in Tokyo, Toshima Ward. Skinny homes like this aren’t an anomaly in Tokyo.

The dense population and lack of space has caused an increase in narrow houses built into crevices of larger buildings. Locals of Tokyo refer to these homes, when translated, as “eel’s beds” or “nests.”

This sleek house, rimmed in black and covered in glass, has a width of just 1.8 meters, which is why it is nicknamed “the 1.8m Width House.” The home is definitely a noticeable structure on a street lined with much shorter homes.


Narrow Tokyo House Interior

The interior of this narrow home in Tokyo is designed in a very unique manner. The lowest level is used as a storage basement while the main level holds a bedroom and a study space. The third level of the home contains a kitchen with a full bar, while the utmost level is decked out with a washroom, bathroom, terrace, and loft.

shiga tokyo skinny house kitchen
shiga tokyo skinny house dining area
shiga tokyo skinny house window
shiga tokyo skinny house bathroom
shiga tokyo skinny house second floor
shiga tokyo skinny house stairs

Skinny House In South Kensington

Skinny House South Kensington London

ADDRESS: 5 Thurloe Square in South Kensington, London

This extremely skinny home in South Kensington is one of the area’s most famous tourist attractions. At only six feet wide, this curious attraction certainly draws onlookers in.

It’s located on Thurloe Square just between the South Kensington tube station and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Created by London architect George Basevi, this home is one of South Kensington’s most prized visual illusions.

The exterior of the skinny house at Thurloe Square almost looks like an optical illusion. Its narrow width makes it immediately recognizable to tourists and locals alike. The red brick and white trim give the house a decidedly European look, almost like something straight out of a Sherlock Holmes film.


Narrow House In South Kensington Interior

The inside of this humble South Kensington abode is also noteworthy. The living room is complete with a couch and TV center while the sitting room has a bookshelf, grey chairs, and a huge window to let in natural light. The bedroom of this property is able to fit a queen bed.

south kensington narrow house living room
south kensington narrow house family room
south kensington narrow house dining room
south kensington narrow house bedroom

Skinny House In London

Skinny House West London

ADDRESS: Shephard’s Bush in West London, England

This spite house in West London was originally used as a hat store and later converted into a home in the 1990s. Between 2006 and 2008, “Pride and Prejudice” actor Simon Woods actually occupied the home.

At just six feet wide and 1000-square-feet, this dark blue skinny house in London is one of the city’s well-known attractions. Wedged between a walk-in clinic and a hair salon, this home is sought out by both tourists and locals alike.

London Narrow House Interior

The interior of the skinny house in London is ornate. With a gorgeous garden that opens directly into the dining room, a spiral staircase, bright blue bar, and modern bathroom, there is a lot to love. The house also includes two bedrooms, a study, plenty of closet space, a roof terrace, and a landscaped garden.

west london narrow house exterior
west london narrow house lounge area
west london narrow house kitchen
west london narrow house dining room
west london narrow house second floor
west london narrow house spare bedroom
west london narrow house bathroom
west london narrow house master bedroom

Frequently Asked Questions About Spite Houses

Frequently Asked Questions About Spite Houses

Spite houses are a very interesting concept all around that reveal a lot about human nature and architecture in one fell swoop. Here are a few of the common questions that come up as people start learning about spite homes.

Where Is The Narrowest House In North America?

The narrowest house in North America is the Hollensbury spite house in Alexandria, Virginia, mentioned above. The home is seven feet wide, 25 feet deep, and covers only 325 square feet between its two stories — making it North America’s skinniest home.

Are Spite Houses Legal?

The legality of spite houses is the same as a normal home in whichever jurisdiction it is built in. The municipal codes for the specific city and county of the spite house can be used to determine if its dimensions and location are actually legal.

Many spite houses in existence were built at a time when building codes weren’t as fine-tuned. As historic properties, they are often grandfathered in legally, despite not being up to modern day code. Some cities and counties around the United States are starting to amend their housing codes to accommodate smaller and narrower homes.

Additionally, policy can’t exactly restrict intent. While it may be annoying to have a neighbor intentionally build property on their land to irritate you, they can do whatever they want on their own land as long as it’s in line with the building laws of your state.

where are tiny homes legal

How Many Square Feet Is A Spite House?

Spite homes aren’t exactly characterized by specific dimensions, but by the intent behind why they were created. However, it’s often the case that spite homes end up being somewhere between 200 and 1,000 square feet, because they are intentionally built into unthinkable spaces.

Spite homes are classically squeezed between alleyways, nestled on street corners, and hung off the edge of another pre-existing home in attempt to be an eye sore or a burden to others. Due to this, it’s uncommon for spite homes to be anywhere near as large as a traditional house.

how big can a tiny house be

What Other Houses Were Built Out Of Spite?

However, not all spite homes are small in size. There are plenty of larger homes that were also built out of spite. The Rockport Maine spite house, the Plum Island Pink House, and Freeport New York’s Miracle House are prime examples of larger houses built out of spite or rage.

rockport maine spite houseRockport House

plum island pink housePlum Island Pink House

freeport new york spite houseMiracle House

edgar allan poe

The Business Man

The concept of spite homes has also made its way into the literary world. Edgar Allen Poe actually wrote about spite homes in his short story, “The Business Man,” published in 1840.

In the narrative, Peter Proffit is a character who attempts to build a spite house and trick his neighbors into paying him to tear it down. Peter refers to this idea as “the Eye-Sore trade,” speaking on the way his home is an eyesore for his gullible neighbors.

Why Are Spite Houses Called Spite Houses?

The first recorded spite house ever was built in 1716 in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and has since been adequately nicknamed The Old Spite House. The origin of this spite home’s creation, as well as when the nickname “spite house” started to stick, isn’t always agreed upon by historians.
marblehead massachusetts spite house

Your Turn!

  • Which of these spite houses do you find most fascinating and why?
  • Which spite house do you hope to visit on your next vacation?
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