SPITE. A nasty word for a nasty desire to hurt, annoy or offend.
In the realm of human relations, resentment is abundant, and in neighborhoods it is usually evident. Take the story of a man in Indiana who was offended when a neighbor told him his house needed painting. So he painted it. Noir.
When it comes to homes, grudges can go to extremes.
In 1925, in Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood, a landowner was cosmically offended when his neighbor made a low bid on a small parcel of land. The neighbor wanted to garden there. The landowner then built an 860 square foot two-story house. At its widest point it is 15 feet wide. At its smallest point it is less than five feet wide. But the house has two full bedrooms, two living rooms, two bathrooms, a basement and a small kitchen, plus a yard. Today is worth north of $500,000. Take that, stingy.
On the other hand, Francis O’Reilly wanted his neighbor to buy his little 37-foot strip of land in Cambridge, Mass. When the neighbor refused, O’Reilly built an 8-foot-wide, 308-square-foot house that has blocked the neighbor’s view since 1908.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the famous Boston Spite House, a bad deal. The house is said to have been built after the Civil War when a soldier returned to find that his father had died and his brother had built a large house on the land they both had inherited.
There was only a small band left, but the angry soldier took the opportunity to build a house 10 feet wide and 30 feet deep, right against the wall of his brother’s house. Today it is private property.
When 10 people occupy the house for a party and one has to use the bathroom, everyone has to move out, the owners told Atlas Obscura.