O'Reilly Spite House – Cambridge, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

O'Reilly Spite House

This is the house that spite built. 


Francis O’Reilly did not like hearing the word “no.” 

When his neighbor refused to buy his investment parcel of land, O’Reilly did what any even-minded, well-mannered, neighborly guy would do:  he built a spite house.

A spite house is a building whose construction is designed to annoy or in some cases just completely screw the builder’s neighbor, city, or anyone else at whom the obnoxious structure is aimed. While building code standards have greatly discouraged the practice, there are a handful of spite houses that still stand as testaments to pettiness.

O’Reilly’s ire presented itself as a 308-square-foot home in West Cambridge. At 37 feet long, the property only allowed for the home to be 8 feet wide, and so it is. Built in 1908, the house not only still stands, but is still in use. Since 2009, the scrawny abode has acted as an office to an interior decorating firm. 

Other spite houses include the Alameda Spite House and Boston’s Skinny House.

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August 9, 2016

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