What are spite houses?

Spite houses are structures that have been built (or in some cases modified) to annoy others. In some cases, they serve no other purpose--they're simply meant to disturb the neighbors.

For example, the famous Plum Island Pink House in Newbury, Massachusetts was reportedly constructed as per the terms of a divorce agreement; the wife agreed to divorce the man on the condition that he build her a perfect replica of their house. He did--but he built the replica in the country, as far away from him as possible. The house's taps reportedly pump saltwater, since fresh running water wasn't available in that area at the time.

Another example is the Alameda Spite House in Alameda, California, constructed by Charles Froling. City planners took part of Froling's land to construct a street, so he built an extremely narrow house in protest. The building is still standing, and measures 10-feet deep, 54-feet long, and 20-feet high.

In Virginia City, Nevada, in the 1950s, a miner with an enemy built a home in the downtown area. That enemy--a rival miner--bought the lot right next door and placed his home less than a foot away, preventing his neighbor from enjoying any view whatsoever.

In other cases, the home itself is more of an annoyance than a major inconvenience. The anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church is headquartered in Topeka, Kansas; conservationist Aaron Jackson purchased the property across the street and painted it in the rainbow colors of the gay pride flag.

"I want to show where there's hate, there can also be love," Jackson told The Washington Post.

Of course, modern building codes and homeowner associations prevent some would-be builders from constructing annoying structures. The most prominent examples of spite houses come from the 19th century or earlier.