Total Eclipse: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Festival of Science, Music, and Celestial Wonder. August 19–21, 2017 in Eastern Oregon.

Alameda, California

Alameda Spite House

This (occupied) house is 10 feet wide and full of spite. 

A spite fence is a fairly common occurrence, but a spite house? Now that takes dedication.

Houses (and fences) of spite are built when a land owner has the time, money, and just the right amount of malice to use construction as a weapon. Their purpose is to annoy neighbors, create an eyesore, or thumb their noses at authority.

Spite houses are built to piss off city officials or block a nasty neighbor’s sun, and are often awkward and impractical. When you’re that committed to being an irritant, function is not high on the priority list. 

In the case of the Alameda spite house in the San Francisco Bay Area, the aim was to harass the enemy on two fronts. The growing city of Alameda had commandeered a good chunk of land from a Mr. Charles Froling with the intention of building a street, with the support of an unsympathetic neighbor. Froling had intentions for the inherited slice of heaven himself—a dream home which, when thwarted, Froling turned into an architectural nightmare.

Using what little land he had left, a vindictive Froling built his house anyway—20 ft. high, 54 ft. long… and 10 ft. wide. 

Spite houses are rare these days due to strict modern building codes, but many that have grandfathered in—like the Alameda house—are still standing, not as annoying these days as they are novel, and many now look upon the spite houses with a smile. Despite its close quarters and odd dimensions, the Alameda spite house is still occupied, and has been since its persnickety construction 100 years ago.

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