Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Spite House

In 1882, Patrick McQuade wanted to build some homes at the corner of 82nd and Lexington in New York City. Trouble was, he needed an adjoining parcel owned by Joseph Richardson; that parcel was only 5′ wide, hence McQuade offered what he thought was a reasonable $1K for the land so he could complete his project.

Richardson refused the offer, asking for $5K instead. McQuade, told him to get lost and started building, thinking that the 5′ parcel would simply go unused.

He was mistaken. Richardson later built what would be known at “The Spite House.” The house at its narrowest was 3’4″ wide. Because of a zoning law that allowed bay windows to extend 2’3″ beyond the lot, he was able to eek out a maximum width of 7’3″. The building was 102′ long, 4 stories had 8 suites (2 per floor), one of which Richardson occupied, and, surely pleasing to the man, blocked most of the light to McQuade’s building.

A 1929 article said this of the interior and furnishings:

Only the very smallest furniture could be fitted into the rooms. The stairways were so narrow that only one person could use a stair at a time. If a tenant wished to descend or ascend, from one floor to another, he would, of necessity, have to ascertain that no one else was using the stair. The halls throughout the house were so narrow that one person could pass another only by dodging into of the rooms until the other had passed by. The largest dining table in any of the suites was 18 inches in width. The chairs were proportionately small. The kitchen stoves were the very smallest that are made.

Unfortunately, the home was demolished in 1915 by the venerable Bing and Bing company, so pics of the interiors are nonexistent.