For Sale: Seattle's Mystery 'Spite House'

860-square-foot oddity for sale for half a million dollars
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2016 9:37 AM CDT
For Sale: Seattle's Mystery 'Spite House'
Tight squeeze.   (Re/Max)

From the front, a half-million-dollar home on the Re/Max website looks like a quaint Spanish Revival in the heart of Seattle. Head to the side for a different perspective, and you'll see appearances are deceiving. You're looking at what Yahoo says locals call the "Montlake Spite House," an 860-square-foot sliver of a house that's legendary even among tiny houses. The front of the pie-shaped home built in 1925 is just 15 feet wide, while the back comes in at under 5 feet wide, KOMO reported in 2013, the last time the house was up for sale. Eugene Smith, a retired professor at the University of Washington who wrote a book on area history, says the wedge-like residence "was certainly the oddest of all the bungalows" in the area. "It was the smallest, most peculiar shape," he told KOMO. And the story behind its supposedly spiteful construction is just as strange as its shape.

Yahoo dug up a few origin tales, including that it may have been built by an enraged landowner to spite a neighbor for a lowball offer on the land, per the Stranger. It also may have been a revenge move by a long-ago owner, said to have given permission for someone to build a home while he was traveling, as long as there was room left for his own house, which … there wasn't, really, Quirksee has reported. But one of the catchiest stories, offered by the Oregonian, claims a divorce judge awarded the original, larger home to the husband, and a tiny portion of land to the wife, who then built this minuscule abode to be up in her ex's face. These days there's a law on the books against such a "malicious erection," which involves building a structure to purposely "spite, injure or annoy" neighbors by blocking their view, access, or light. (A secret of the "tiny house" movement.)

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