America’s skinniest home is just 7 feet wide and was built out of spite

Hollensbury Spite House - Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia
Two women pose with arms outstretched in front the Hollensbury Spite House in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria
  • America’s skinniest home is a two-story townhouse in Old Town, Alexandria .
  • Called the “Hollensbury Spite House,” it’s just 2.13m wide and 7.62m deep.
  • The original owner built the home in 1830 because he was annoyed by loud alley loiterers.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Virginia’s historic Old Town neighborhood, just south of Washington, DC, is steeped in history. From Georgian to Victorian to mid-century modern buildings, its streets have no shortage of beautiful architecture.

But one building, in particular, stands out: a tiny, bright blue home sandwiched between two much-larger townhouses.

Dubbed “the narrowest home in America” by Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the Oprah Winfrey Network, the Hollensbury Spite House is 2.13m wide, 7.62m deep, and a total of 325 square feet.

It was also built out of spite.

Hollensbury Spite House Skitch
An arrow shows the location of the Hollensbury Spite House in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. It is located at 523 Queen Street. Google Maps

While now a popular photo-op, the home’s origins are far from charming

Over the years, the home has become a popular Instagram spot in Old Town, with visitors often stopping to snap photos in front of it, arms outstretched to highlight its small size.

Hollensbury Spite House - Old Town, Alexandria
The Hollensbury Spite House has become a popular Instagram backdrop. Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria

People are also drawn to this colorful home because of its unique history.

The Hollensbury Spite House was built in 1830 by John Hollensbury, who owned one of the adjacent homes. The story goes that he was tired of noise from carriages and loiterers in the alley next to his house.

To put an end to noise from foot and horse traffic in the alley, he built a house in the middle of it.

“Imagine you hate the neighborhood drunks so you build a house in your alley,” one Instagram user wrote about his recent visit to the Spite House.

Today, the home is a private residence owned by Jack Sammis. Jack purchased the home for $135,000 in 1990, and he and his wife Colleen had been using the home as a pied-à-terre, the New York Times reported in 2008. They did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Hollensbury Spite House - Old Town, VA - Diptych
Left: The Hollensbury Spite House pictured c. 1924. Right: The present-day building with a coat of bright blue paint. Left: Library of Congress; Right: Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Not surprisingly, the home is compact.

They once rented the house to a couple who wanted to see if they could endure living in a ship’s cabin on a cruise around the world, Jack told the New York Times in 2008. The couple decided that they could after staying at the residence.

The two sides of the house are brick and still have grooves from the wagon wheels that would pass through the alley back in the day. It opens up to a walled garden that is 2.13m wide and 3.66m deep.

“I love the idea of it – that something like this can exist. It makes the world a little more magical,” Colleen told the New York Times in 2008.

The Hollensbury Spite House is one of a handful of spite houses around the world

While the Hollensbury Spite House is the most famous spite house in Old Town, it’s not the only one. There are at least three other spite houses built in the neighborhood’s historic alleyways, according to Old Town Home.

Spite houses have also been built across the world, from a London house painted to look like candy canes out of spite for her neighbors to a home in Lebanon reportedly built by a man who wanted to ruin his brother’s seafront views.