Skinny, spiteful houses
They’re long, they’re lean and they are meant to be mean.
Mean to the neighbors who made someone mad enough to build a tiny house right beside them, cramping the views and ventilation and diminishing adjoining property values.
Yes, that is what all of the following houses have in common: they were built exclusively because someone got a bee in his bonnet.
The Hollensbury Spite House in Alexandria, Virginia
John Hollensbury built this narrow blue house wedged between two other homes in the year 1830. He owned one of the larger homes and the alley beside it, but did not like the fact that people parked their horses in the alley, or that vagrants hung out there. Known to be a cranky, antisocial kind of guy, John Hollensbury took it upon himself to build a house in that space, darn it.
Below is a 1924 photo of the “Hollensbury spite house” in Alexandria Virginia
Turning heads at 7 feet wide and 25 feet deep.
The Skinny House in Boston, Massachusetts
The Skinny House in Boston is the result of an inheritance dispute between two brothers. While one brother was away serving in the military, the other brother built a large house that took up most of the lot. When the soldier brother returned home to find what his brother had done, he was so mad that he built a tiny house on what was left of the lot, blocking his brother’s windows.
O’Reilly tiny house in Cambridge, Massachusetts
A fellow named Francis O’Reilly built this tiny house on the corner in 1908. He was reportedly mad when the owner of the adjacent parcel of land refused to buy his little lot for a fair price. O’Reilly then built a house measuring 8 feet wide. The building still stands today and is used for commercial purposes.
The Alameda, California spite house
This turn-of-the-century skinny house was built after the city of Alameda (just east of San Francisco) appropriated a large chunk of land from a private property owner in order to build a new street. Insanely peeved over the unyielding power of eminent domain, the lot’s owner built a house on what he had left of the lot: ten feet.
It still stands today and is used as a single family residence.
The West Village New York Skinny house
At only 9 and a half feet wide, this house is reputedly the narrowest house in New York City. It was built in 1873 to block a former carriage entryway to stables that were located in the rear. (Another case of the property owner having an aversion to horse stink?)
This home has also had some famous tenants such as anthropologist Margaret Mead, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and actors John Barrymore and Cary Grant.
This August 1939 photo (below) illustrates how well preserved the house on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, New York is:
A testament to the insane real estate market in NYC, this house was last purchased in the year 2000 for $1.6 million.
It is now listed for sale at $3,495,000.
But the granddaddy of them all was:
The New York Spite house on Lexington Ave
At only five feet across at its widest point, this one could have held the title of New York’s skinniest house - if it were still around today. Unfortunately, it was torn down in 1915.
It was built by a man named Joseph Richardson in 1882. He erected this sliver of a townhouse butted right up to the flats next door because the owner of the neighboring building refused to pay Richardson for the narrow strip of land on the corner. ‘Richardson’s revenge’ cut off light and views to the offending property owner and stood as a reminder of the bitter grudge for 32 years.
Joseph Richardson died in 1897 and left the skinny spite house to his heirs. It was later sold and passed through various owners until one finally had it - and the building beside it – demolished and replaced with a single new building in 1915.
Not all skinny, squished houses however, were built out of ill-will or hard feelings… some were built as frugal space-saving endeavors. The original ‘down-sizers’.
Some were just built to be cute…
Like this tiny house in Toronto which is currently for sale.
Have a great day and remember to love thy neighbor!