John Hollensbury was fed up with putting up with the noise of annoying pedestrians making their way in the alleyway by his home. Pedestrians weren’t the only nuisance on Queen Street. The incessant traffic noise from horse-drawn wagons and carriages and the deep marks on the walls of the alley by his house were truly testing his patience. Hollensbury is no longer alive today, he had actually put up with this issue over 200 years ago. The problem tested his patience back in 1830, when he decided to do something about it.
Hollensbury put two parallel walls and a roof in the alleyway and transformed the path into a small addition to his home. It’s not clear whether this was legal, but maybe the fact that Hollensbury was a member of the city council helped him.
The single two-story bright blue house sits on this iconic street and it’s about 7 feet wide, and around 25 feet deep. The narrow house covers a 325 square foot area, and was purchased for $135,000, in the 90s by Jack Sammis, who had been eyeing the house for a while.
“I used to walk by it every day when I worked near here and when it was listed in the paper, I knew right away what house it was. I bought it the first day it was shown,” he recalled.
This humble abode wasn’t just full of history itself, but the house also features some beautiful exteriors. Jack made a few alterations to the original design and built an impressive tiny patio outside, where he even held his wedding after-party in 2007.
“You have to use the garden [when hosting guests],” he told The New York Times, which is pretty understandable if you take a peek at the house. It truly is as narrow as it gets!
Once he was done tweaking the outdoor patio, Jack wanted to focus on the original features of this tiny historical treasure, and that included everything from the exposed brick walls, to the wooden floors and all the elements you’d expect to see in a house from that time period.
Jack told The New York Times that,“the area loves the house – it’s on napkins and cards that show Old Town scenes. It’s always on the Christmas tour.” The house isn’t just an architectural marvel. This local landmark was dubbed the “Spite House,” because Hollensbury was the one who actually built it.
She said, “I deal with commercial spaces, and this house is so different.” And she absolutely loves everything about this house. “I love the idea of it – that something like this can exist. It makes the world a little more magical,” she said.
If you ever come across a house that looks just a little too narrow or too close to a neighboring house, you may have just spotted a spite house. Hollensbury wasn’t the only one to solve his problem with some walls and a roof.