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6 Unique Homes Built Just for Spite

Forget siblings, government officials, and the public at large: These stubborn homeowners bow to no one.

get off my lot spite homeGoogle/ via zillow.com

Get off my lot!

To prevent people from using the alley next to his house, an irritable resident filled the space with this seven-foot-wide abode in Alexandria, Virginia.

oh brother spite homeGoogle/via zillow.com

Oh, brother

What if you and your brother had inherited a big plot of land—and he built a huge house on it while you were away serving in the military? That’s exactly what happened in Boston in 1874. Left with only a sliver of property, the resourceful soldier constructed a small wooden house abutting his brother’s, blocking the sunlight and destroying his sibling’s view. Think this was a strange place to build a home? The setting of this spite home doesn’t even compare to these 15 homes built in seriously odd locations.

kensingtoncandy stripes spite homeSteve Bell/Shutterstock

I want candy…stripes?

On a quiet street in Kensington and Chelsea, London, a vengeful woman painted striking candy stripes onto her townhouse just to spite her neighbors! After Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring’s neighbors blocked her attempt to demolish and rebuild her house, the homeowner sought sweet retribution. In the true spirit of surprise, Lisle-Mainwaring had the red stripes commissioned while her neighbors were out one night, halting the project mid-stripe when they returned. Shortly after the extreme makeover, the town government evoked an order, commonly used to make owners clean up disheveled homes, to force Lisle-Mainwaring to repaint her house—sans candy-stripe.

spite homeWangkun Jia/Shutterstock

Record-breaking revenge

This spiteful structure, spanning only six feet wide, is lauded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “shallowest commercial building.” In 1913, Vancouver initiated a road-widening project in Chinatown and confiscated a large portion of land from Chang Toy, the successful owner of the Sam Kee Company. To protest this unfair decision, Toy built a thin, functioning home for his business, complete with a basement and a second floor that extends over the sidewalk. Today, the building is used as the Jack Chow Insurance Company. Known for its rich history and record-breaking dimensions, the Canadian building is just as popular as these famous American houses in every state.

spite home via Google

I’ll show you!

In 1908, Francis O’Reilly attempted to sell a small plot of land that he had previously bought to his neighbor as an investment. When his neighbor refused to purchase the 308 square feet of land, O’Reilly retaliated by filling the space with a skinny spite house. Today, the eight-foot-wide, 37-foot-long building is still standing in Cambridge, Massachusetts—though it has been converted into an interior design office.

spite homeNWMLS/via redfin.com

A stylish spite home

At first glance, this home might look like an ordinary, standard-sized house. However, as you walk around the side of the property, you may be surprised to find that this two-bedroom, two-bathroom home is only 16 feet wide! Built in 1925, the little house has two creation stories: One legend says that it was the product of a divorce, in which the husband retained the original house and the wife was granted custody of the front lawn—the perfect place for a spite home. The other story says that the neighbor and former owner undervalued the parcel of land when he sold it, deeming the space too small for a home, and the buyer built a tiny yet functional house to prove his neighbor wrong. Regardless of which story is true, this spectacular spite home is an architectural marvel. To convert a similarly simple home into an eye-catching property, try these 31 improvements that will double the value of your house.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Carley Lerner
Carley Lerner is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Reader's Digest. She is a member of the Class of 2021 at Duke University, where she writes for the school newspaper, The Chronicle.