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Univ. of Kentucky College of Law

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Houses Built Out of Spite

The Atlantic Cities blog does a quick history:

There are a handful of so-called "spite houses" enlivening the streets of America. Thrown up by cranks and malcontents, these structures take many forms but share a common function: To punish the neighbors by blocking their view, blacking out their sunlight, or making their life a little more hellish in some other nefarious way. Many were constructed in the days when building codes were lax, and so their underlying contempt and animosity has been grandfathered into the modern landscape.

Seattle0

[One example:] This envelope of a Seattle dwelling at left above, what some might call a stand-alone hallway, actually sold for an unknown amount in 2013 (the listed price was $397,500). The problem with the Montlake Spite House is not its 860 square feet, which would make for a decent studio in New York. It's how those feet are proportioned, with 15-foot-wide walls at one end cramping down to 55 inches at the other, narrower than a typical prison cell. "The one-bedroom house at 2022 24th Ave. E. in Montlake was built in 1925 by someone trying to get back at a neighbor for making an insultingly low offer for the tiny slice of land on which it sits," writes the Seattle Times. "It worked; the house blocked the neighbors' open space and they moved."

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