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Spite Houses!

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There once was a millionaire who owned a lot in an exclusive residential area of New York City. This particular lot presented a very unusual problem. 

The lot was five feet wide and about a hundred feet long. He couldn’t do anything with such an odd sized lot, so he decided to sell it to one of the neighbors on either side. But when he went to the neighbors, they didn’t want to give him anything for it. 

They basically said, “Look, you can’t build on it and you can’t sell it to anyone else. So take our offer or leave it.”The millionaire was so angered by their refusal and rebuttal that he decided to get even.

He hired an architect and a contractor, and had a house designed for that weird shaped lot. It was five feet wide and ran the entire length of the property. He moved in and set up house in this narrow house. 

Each room was barely wide enough for a single piece of furniture. His hatred for the people on either side of this small lot made him decide to ruin the look of the entire area.

The neighbors complained that it was a blight to the neighborhood. But the city fathers couldn’t find any code forbidding it. This millionaire moved into it, and lived there the rest of his life. 

The only one who was really punished was him. He moved into a long narrow little house that held only hate and discomfort. The house became known throughout the neighborhood as “Spite House.” It still stands today as a monument to one man’s hatred.

A simple online search reveals that there are eight other “Spite Houses!” There’s one in Carlsbad, New Mexico, built to block the Mayor’s view and annoy him. There are two in San Francisco; One at Deadman’s Point, Maine; one in Huntsville, Alabama; one in Boston, one that is supposed to be haunted and has been turned into a Bed & Breakfast in Fredrick, Maryland; and a triangle shaped “Spite House” in Montlake, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) details the story of a servant who was forgiven a massive (unrepayable) debt, only to refuse forgiveness to another servant who owed him a relatively small debt.

It’s a story about our debt of sin. It’s about God’s free and redeeming grace. It’s also about anger and spite, and the judgment that follows an unforgiving spirit. You and I might not live in a “Spite House”, but many of us live in a house where there is a lot of spite!!”

Thanks to Billy D. Strayhorn for sharing this.  Thanks to Sena Yilmaz for the picture. 

Think of a time when YOU did something out of spite.


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