BUT IT LOOKS SO PLEASANT Memorializing a neighbor fight since 1925.
  • Courtesy of Redfin
  • BUT IT LOOKS SO PLEASANT Memorializing a neighbor fight since 1925.

In 2009, there was a fire and a break-in at a local gallery at the same time as a mean-spirited exhibition called Spite House. I wrote about the crimes plus the art plus an actual Seattle spite house in a piece called "On Malicious Erection, Everlasting Fights, and Fire's Power":

There is a spite house at 2022 24th Avenue East in Montlake. It is pink stucco on the outside and only four-and-a-half feet wide at one end. Legend has it that a wife put it up after a judge awarded her husband their house and her just the front yard in the divorce. But that's not true. It went up in 1925; the next-door neighbor who wanted the sliver of land it sits on made the landowner such a low offer that he responded by building the little house right up in the neighbor's face. The spiter won: The neighbor moved.

The neighbor should have fought harder, because the law... was on his side. "Malicious erection" (I know) statutes in many states, including Washington, specifically prohibit spite houses, giving neighbors the right to an injunction or a teardown if the foundation is, say, poured in the dead of night (it has happened). The existence of such laws is a testament to the unstoppable drive to build spite houses, and most of the laws were implemented late in the 19th century, including Washington's.

It seems a Halloween gift that the Montlake house has just gone up for sale again for the first time since 2000, according to KOMO. Check it inside and out, here.