Architecture – Boston, Massachusetts

There’s a house in the old Historic region of Boston. Technically it’s in Boston’s North End, which is a part of the city with a lot of old buildings and stories. So in the North End there is a really, really skinny house wedged in-between two buildings. A midsize SUV takes up more space parallel parking than this house takes up on the sidewalk. This house is said to be a couple hundred years old, like most things in the North End. Supposedly the house was built to purposely block the view of another person. Everything in that part of Boston is really close together and so people probably got fed up with neighbors and such. Apparently someone got so mad that they built the house just to spite their neighbor and hence the name the Spite House.

Tom is grew up in the Boston metropolitan area. When he was in elementary school he used to hear a lot of stories about Boston’s history from school teachers, family, friends, and the media. Tom can’t remember exactly but thinks that he heard about the Spite House when he was about 6 or 7 years old. He thinks that he and his mom were in the North End for one reason (which he cannot recall) and they were near the Spite House so his mom took him down the street to look at it. His mom also told him why it was so skinny, which he recounted to me as best he could remember.

Tom says at the time the house seemed unusually small compared to the rest of the houses but didn’t really appreciate how small it was until he saw it again when he was in his teens. He’s not sure if the house was really built to spite a neighbor but hasn’t heard any other stories or reasons for why its so skinny. Tom didn’t know for sure but assumed that people live in the house because it is in a desirable neighborhood.

The Spite house’s purpose today is lost in the newer buildings built around it. The view that the house intended to block is now unknown because the house is surrounded by taller apartment buildings on either side.

The idea of a Spite house is not unique to Boston. In New York and Virigina I found Spite houses that each city claims as a historical landmark. They were built for the same reasons that the Boston house was and remain standing today. – See Annotation

Boston Spite House:


Bailey, Steve. “A Tiny, Beloved Home That Was Built for Spite.” New York Times 29 Feb. 2008. 1 May 2008 <