“The Spite House” in Alexandria, Virginia

by hookedonhouses on March 3, 2008

The Spite House in Alexandria VA

See that tiny blue house wedged in between the white and red ones? It was built in 1830 and is only 7 feet wide. The Spite House, as it’s called, has two stories but only 325 square feet. It even appears to be considerably shorter than its neighbors.

Spite House in Alexandria Virginia (7)

Ripley’s Believe It or Not named it the narrowest house in America. According to the NYT:

Structurally, it’s more of an enclosed alley than a house — the brick walls of older houses on either side form the painted brick walls in the living room. It’s called the Spite House by some because John Hollensbury, the owner of one of the adjacent houses, built it in 1830 to keep horse-drawn wagons and loiterers out of his alley.

Spite House in Alexandria Virginia (6)

The home’s current owner, Jack Sammis, was interviewed about it on Oprah and told her that back when it was still an alley, there “was walking traffic and also carriage traffic—if you look closely on the walls, you can see the indentations where the wagon wheels would brush up against the wall.”

Spite House in Alexandria Virginia-kitchen

The owner says it was “quite a challenge” to make a kitchen work in the tiny space allotted. The kitchen has a freezer, fridge, four-burner stove, and an oven. There’s also extra storage space under a bench seat and extra cabinets in the corner. You can see where they tucked a small microwave on a shelf under the stairs in the photo below:

Spite House in Alexandria Virginia (5)

There’s definitely a lot of family togetherness in the Spite House. They don’t use this as their full-time residence, however, preferring to think of it as their “pied-a-terre.” The owner purchased it for $135,000 in 1990.

Spite House in Alexandria Virginia (8)

On Oprah, Nate Berkus said the house “has so much soul.”

Spite House in Alexandria Virginia (1)

The backyard garden space is as narrow as the rest of the house:

Spite House in Alexandria Virginia (3)

Photos via The New York Times, Oprah, and Alexandria Daily Photo.

Narrowest House in America-Alexandria Virginia

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Aubrey March 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Hello, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I’ve been enjoying yours for a while–I love gawking at houses and I really love that you show interior photos, since those are the parts I never get to see in real life (when driving past cool houses). I hope you don’t mind me linking to your blog again because some of these houses are too neat not to share.

hookedonhouses March 3, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Hi, Aubrey! Thanks for stopping by–and for writing such nice things about Hooked on Houses on your blog (http://shinercircus.blogspot.com ). I really, really appreciate it. Hope to see you again here soon! :-)

Tracey March 3, 2008 at 7:37 pm

I used to live in this neighborhood! Thanks for sharing about this cool house!

hookedonhouses March 3, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Really?! How interesting! Did you ever get to go inside?

fat stylist March 4, 2008 at 10:30 am

This house makes me feel warm and cozy. I’m pretty hooked on shows like Small Space Big Style and websites like yours and Apt Therapy because it’s full of ideas for what you can do with limited space.

Melissa @ The Inspired Room March 4, 2008 at 10:40 am

So cute! I think I saw that on Oprah. Love tiny places like that.

Melody from ~Pennies In My Pocket~ March 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm

I love how they have utilized ever square inch, but I’m getting claustrophobic just looking at the photos! lol

Ms. Place March 10, 2008 at 7:05 pm

My family is Dutch. Such narrow houses are common in The Netherlands. Steep stairs, large windows, and space efficiency are in order. It’s like living in a sailboat. No space goes to waste. Yeah Spite Houses!

Bill Hoagington March 19, 2008 at 4:37 pm

There is more info on spite houses at


hookedonhouses March 19, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Thanks, Bill! I enjoyed reading about other Spite Houses.

Nikki~ The Scarlett Rose Garden July 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I would loose (what’s left!) my mind in that house!

g. jones August 7, 2008 at 8:30 pm

If you want to see a really small house, you should see the one in Conwy,Wales in the UK. It is called ( The smallest house in Great Britain ) and you will find it under that name.It is 3.05 meters by 1.8 meters.and was once inhabited by a 6 foot tall man.

JenX67 August 20, 2008 at 10:38 am

I’d hurt someone, like myself, if I lived in this place. Seven feet wide? How painful

shahbeen September 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm

its absolutely amazing what people can do with spaces,…..for me smaller spaces r a bigger challenge……

KJI October 8, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I pass by this house every day on my way to work. I LOVE it, but had no idea it was the narrowest house in America. It was great to learn some of the history and see the inside shots. Thanks!!

Jackie November 10, 2008 at 10:47 am

I love this! I had seen it somewhere and was dying to take the time to look inside. Even better than expected! Thanks for all of your great work! I love to stop by and see your fun posts! Great big smile on my face for a Monday morning :). xo, J

Grace @ Sandier Pastures December 14, 2008 at 2:09 am

So many houses like that in Tokyo! (with the limited space and high prices)

Steve Elliott (alapoet) December 14, 2008 at 5:57 pm

That is fascinating! I can only imagine the challenges of living there!

thekeybunch December 15, 2008 at 6:06 am

It’s amazing how spaces(big or small) don’t matter to creative minds. I simply love this idea. – Rekha

Raalnan5 December 17, 2008 at 7:41 am

Wow, $135 in Alexandria. I bet it’s worth a lot more now. I would have considered that a “risky” investment, because of the lack of a stand alone structure.

Kierra725 December 19, 2008 at 11:57 am

Wow! I love the idea, but I just don’t think that I could live in such a small house! It’s amazing how they adapted the space to work for them!

Tara @ Eco Home December 20, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Talk about compact living! The house is really cute actually!

mandy December 21, 2008 at 7:58 am

this house is really neat.they did a great job decorating with amount of space they have.i love the narrow garden its really cute and looks relaxing.there is a house here in the town i live in that is really small.just alomost like this one only one story.

Wayne Smallman December 27, 2008 at 1:04 pm

That house would be spot on for me. Perfect, in fact.

karla | looking towards heaven December 28, 2008 at 12:43 am

there is a house in the town I grew up in (Frederick, Maryland) called “The Tyler Spite House” — it was built out of spite as well.

Interesting history!

susanbfv January 8, 2009 at 10:25 am

THIS has got to be the most perfect website in the whole entire universe!!!!!! I love to photograph and paint tiny houses……and this was just the perfect site to come to….to get information. Thank you sooooooo much Julia!!!
Susan in the South (Alabama)

Vanderbilt Wife April 22, 2009 at 10:58 am

I’ve been to Old Town Alexandria, but don’t remember seeing this. Spite house, a funny idea. The house does make me claustrophobic and grateful for my whole 1170 square feet!

Vanderbilt Wife’s last blog post..Just Another Normal Night of Crazy

Linda September 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

I love small houses. One thing small houses would do is to help to eliminate clutter.

Arie January 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm

cute small house. Thanks for the sharing

danny April 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I saw this house on tv ! Funny!

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