File this under "Revenge Tactics Of The Genteel And Moneyed." Spite houses are exactly as they sound -- homes built expressly to upset a neighbor. Some are built to block views, while others are designed in protest of land zoning. We'd like to tell you the story of a particular spite house, a sprawling mansion that was the outcome of a rather messy inter-familial argument.
A view of the home in 1960.
Originally located in Phippsburg, Maine, the home was built by Thomas McCobb in 1806. He was the heir to his father's land and shipbuilding business, which had presumably included the family's crown jewel of a property, dubbed the "Mansion In The Wilderness." Though it sounds like a twee wedding venue, the house was considered one of the finest in the region. However, McCobb had the unfortunate experience of returning home to find the mansion occupied by his stepbrother.
McCobb, however, moved on...to a plot of land right across the street from his stepbrother. He then began the process of building a mansion even more luxurious than the old family home. The resulting structure was an elegant Federal-style home topped with an octagonal cupola.
Another view of the "Spite House," including a peek at the addition.
Life proceeded, presumably under frigid social relations and awkward family gatherings, until the McCobbs vacated the home. Years later, the property was purchased by a wealthy businessman, who moved the house to a new location in Rockport, Maine, and added on two wings. Though the house still stands today, according to the blog Down East Dilettante, the wings are long gone.
Today, spite houses are much harder to build. It seems the "golden age" of spite-building was the early 19th-century through the early 20th-century, when creating a new home wasn't as tied up in red tape as it is now.
From battles between brothers to disagreements over city plans, here's a brief history of homes built to make someone mad.