He couldn’t help but let his anger get the best of him after entering the house. His eyes wandered in astonishment, looking up and down all through the walls, the ceiling, and traveling back to the hallways and up the stairs. He let it sink in, and even though he tried to keep it together, he couldn’t help but feel ill when he realized someone had done this all out of spite.
When Jack Sammi purchased his beautiful home on Queens Street for a lump sum of $135,000, he felt like the planets had finally aligned for him, but he was starting to feel like he had made the worst decision of his life. He had a taste for “oddities” but he was starting to feel like he’d let it go too far this time. But when he finally allowed cameras to film the interior of the house, he sent the world into a frenzy.
To say that this house was quirky and unique is a major understatement, as there’s a very peculiar reason as to how it came to be. As it turns out, the man who had built it originally didn’t just rely on good old cement and brick walls. Oh no. Revenge was his sole purpose for building this strange house, as he wanted to make life a living hell for a specific group of people in the neighborhood. Due to the way the house was built, you could clearly see that he’d never imagine anyone would want to live there.
Those who haven’t tried living in a confined space, it may seem a bit intimidating to accommodate their entire life to a tiny space. But for a lot of other folks, downsizing the space they live in is a way to free themselves off of earthly possessions and declutter their lives. But this tiny house in Queens street was beyond small. Some would go as far as to say it was unlivable.
In the 1830s, a hard-working man by the name of John Hollensbury loved to kickstart his after-work routine. He would get home after working long hours, kick his feet up for a little “me time,” and enjoyed drinking a stiff drink. He looked forward to a relaxing evening, but he wasn’t always able to enjoy some peace and quiet. But one day, something broke the camel’s back and he finally had enough.
Hollensbury lived right next to an alleyway, and his distaste for the noise of loud passersby, horse-drawn carriages, and sounds of broken bottles were finally getting to him. The growing noise and late-night brawls polluted every corned of his house, even floating right up to his upper-story window in the middle of the night. He’d finally had enough, and one day, he came up with a way to put a stop to it.
Alleyways have been a great cause for concern for a lot of homeowners around the world. Not only do you have to put up with the constant fear that your home could get broken into, but the incessant rumble of people walking by, cars, horns, and carriages can drive someone half mad. Fortunately, Hollensbury didn’t let it get to him. He got down and dirty and devised a plan to stop the noise once and for all.
Hollensbury let out a high-pitched evil laugh while he concocted the perfect plan to put a stop to the infernal noises that were making his life impossible. He still wondered if what he was planning on doing was even legal in the first place. But that didn’t stop his master evil plan from stopping the traffic altogether, once and for good. He was going to make them all pay!
Hollensbury wasted no time and started building something. No matter how exhausting it’d be, he would work on his project until the very end, and no wagon would ever pass through the alleyway ever again. If there was something he hated with a passion, it was traffic, and now he’d never have to hear it from his window again…that is, if everything worked out as he had planned. Suddenly, things got a bit complicated for Hollensbury.
Hollensbury ran into a little problem. The alleyway was considered public property, and that meant he didn’t have permission to build on it. Still, he wasn’t about to let anything ruin his master plan, not even the law. There was still one more card he could play as he was a chairman on the council board. Hollensbury used his position of power to pull off one of history’s most elaborate tricks, which would end up leaving a mark on the neighborhood.
When Jack Sammis saw that John Hollensbury’s house was up for sale, (a whopping 200 years after he plotted his revenge) he knew right then and there that he had to buy it. He’d walked in front of the “Spite House” hundreds of times on his way to his office, which was located on Queen Street, in Alexandria’s Old Town district. But he would’ve never imagined the interiors to look like that.
No one had seen a person take their revenge to such unfathomable extremes, but John Hollensbury’s antics ended up making him somewhat of a celebrity for years to come. The tiny “Spite House” was only 7 feet wide, and 25-feet deep. It boasted a total 325 square foot, which were spread between two stories. He also used the adjacent house’s walls to keep the structure together. Even today, you could see remnants of what the wheels of the carriages had done to the walls which were now part of his living room. But could Sammis turn it into a somewhat-livable space?
As far as redecorating and fixing an old house goes, things can get really complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing. Many house flippers would advise knowing what you’re in for before snatching up an old house, as you get stuck in a long process that’ll eat away your entire savings. But Sammis was no fool. He’d bought the house on a whim, but he wasn’t planning on fixing this historic treasure all on his own.
Sammis was the proud owner of the tiniest house in America, and he wanted to restore this historic beauty respecting its original structure. “I thought having something unique and historic would be fun,” he said. But he knew he needed all the help he could get. He got in touch with his friend, Matt Hannan, who’d help him find a way to make every inch count. When his project was over, everyone was dying to take peek inside.
The media went into a frenzy the minute they heard that Sammis was restoring the infamous “Spite House,” and even Oprah dedicated an entire segment to the story. Finally, Sammis allowed cameras to take a look inside his humble abode, and viewers couldn’t help but feel like they were transported back in time. Sammis had managed to restore the house while maintaining an old feel to it. He’d faithfully redecorated it to somewhat resemble the period it was built in, and the results were breathtaking.
Sammi’s friend, Hannan, had done a fantastic job. He’d managed to highlight the different elements that remained intact through the years, such as the brick walls and the wooden floors, while also making the place a bit more efficient and livable. He strategically moved the heating and cooling system to a tiny attic, but he also played around with the furniture, by installing space-saving cabinets, which allowed him to include a water heater and a washer-dryer unit he stacked on top of each other.
Despite doing several alterations, the house still maintained that “1930s feel” to it, which is something Sammis had wanted from the very beginning. The “Spite House” is so tiny, that it’s really similar to a small ship cabin, which is one of the reasons why Sammis rents it out occasionally. Apparently, some people want to test out what it’s like to be in such a confined space before embarking on an ocean cruise.
Houses in the 1930s were a it more modest and functional way back during the Depression era. Modesty, affordability and functionality were the main priority back then, and despite the economy having a few hiccups, houses were still getting built left and right. People were building large homes, but not Hollensbury! He spent a few bucks coming up with a house so tiny, it could fit in an alleyway, and now, it was Sammi’s very own dream home. And everyone was impressed with how much work he put into the house.
People were shocked to see that a full-sized sofa is able to fit in the living room. It’s located right in front of a decorative wooden mantelpiece, and right at the end of the living room, there’s a tiny stairway with its banister and molding completely restored which leads to the second floor. But Hannan couldn’t afford to waste any space, so he used the empty room underneath the stairs and installed some cupboards for extra storage. But the kitchen was one of the most important rooms for Sammis.
Inside the kitchen area, you can find a wooden table that’s strategically pushed against a wall. Three people can easily fit in there too, but the table can also be pulled away to accommodate four or more diners. Hammis made sure to give Sammis the possibility of entertaining more people in his kitchen, which is why he placed a built-in bench at the end of the counter. There’s also a four-burner stove, with a tiny kitchen counter with a sink.
But the patio is easily one of the most beautiful spaces in the “Spite House,” and it’s also Sammi’s favorite part of the house, as it gives him the chance to entertain friends and family members whenever he likes to host a party. The outdoor area is simply extraordinary. The cobblestones are covered in moss, and there are comfortable built-in seats, and impressive greenery.
Everyone loves to spend time outside on a patio, reading a book, or starting their day with a cup of coffee while they water the plants. It’s the perfect place to host a dinner party, or enjoy a summer brunch. But if you thought your tiny little hallway or mini backyard wasn’t big enough to be turned into a patio, then take a few pointers from Sammi’s impressive project. All you need to do is create the perfect atmosphere. He added a couple of modern lights can liven up the place. But you could also place a mini outdoor rug and a small wooden bench where people could sit, and hang a myriad of plants and flowers on the wall. Use elements of nature and personalize it with comfortable tiny furniture.
But Sammi’s home renovations didn’t stop there. There’s a retro bathroom upstairs that mimics the charming 1930’s aesthetic. They installed a ball-and-claw foot bathtub, which doubles as a shower because they needed to save space, which is why they cleverly placed some cabinets for extra storage at the top of the stairs. The “Spite House” is not only habitable, but oh-so-whimsical!
The bedroom upstairs boasts an incredible window that overlooks the street. There’s a double bed wedged against the wall, but they placed it sideways so it allows Sammis to move around it. “But you sleep the other way,” he explained. “This was Matt’s idea.” There’s also a small cabinet framing the window which conceals a TV. As you can see, these two really planned every detail!
More often than not, Sammis’ family spends their weekends at the “Spite House.” His 17-year-old son cherishes the incredible memories he’d made at that house. He particularly loved having first row seats to the Washington Day parade, which passed right on the street in front of them. Sammis claims his family loves to spend, “mainly summer weekends” at the house. “We can walk to the farmers’ market just down the street. There are restaurants, the parks on the Potomac,” he added. Clearly, his love for oddities ended up paying in the end!