City Cast

America’s Skinniest House Is In Alexandria

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on October 24
The Spite House used to be an alleyway.

The Spite House used to be an alleyway. (Google Maps)

This bright blue house in Alexandria is 7 feet wide and is the country’s skinniest home. It was built out of spite in 1830 by John Hollensbury, who was sick and tired of people hanging out and speeding their wagons down the alley beside his house.

Hollensbury bought the alley lot for $45 and transformed it into a 350-square-foot house. It only has three rooms – a living/kitchen area, a bedroom, and a bathroom. The original tiny house.

An alternate legend is that Hollensbury and his neighbor/best friend had a falling out after the neighbor’s carriage damaged the side of his house. Hollensbury then built the alley house to one-up his neighbor. Either way, spite was involved in its creation, and that’s what’s important.

Ford Coupe outside the Spite House between 1910 and 1923. (Library of Congress)

Ford Coupe outside the Spite House between 1910 and 1923. (Library of Congress)

The house was used briefly as a school before being reverted into a home and is now owned and occupied by an extremely brave couple. It remains a historic landmark and has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Architectural Digest, and many local tours.

The Spite House might be the smallest, but it’s not the only alley house in Alexandria. There are three other homes, ranging from 8 to 10 feet across. They became quite popular as a result of population growth and the need for cheap housing (two walls costs less than four, I guess). Would you live in one of these tiny alley homes?

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