The House Spite Built

Around 1882, Patrick McQuade wanted to build some houses on 82nd Street at Lexington Avenue in NYC. The adjoining parcel of land, around the corner on Lexington, was owned by Joseph Richardson. If McQuade could acquire this parcel, he would be able to extend his building all the way to Lexington Avenue, and put windows on that side of the building. No problem: the parcel was a strip of land 102 feet long and five feet wide along Lexington, useless for any other purpose. Surely Richardson would sell.

McQuade offered $1,000, but Richardson demanded $5,000. Unwilling to pay, McQuade started building his houses anyway, complete with windows looking out on Richardson’s five-foot-wide strip, which was unbuildable. Or so he thought.

Richardson was beside himself with rage. Within a few days, he hired an architect and a contractor to build one of the strangest houses ever conceived. Only five feet wide running the length of his property, his house was little more than a row of tiny rooms, each barely able to accommodate a stick of furniture. The neighbors complained, but the city officials could find no codes or violations to stop the construction.

Richardson built a building five feet wide and 102 feet long, blocking McQuade’s Lexington Avenue windows.

After construction was completed, Richardson moved into the Spite House and lived there until he died in 1897. The Spite House was demolished in 1915.

There are a lot of people who have built and living in Spite House(s) today.

Luke 15: 28 – The older brother built his house of spite.

A little boy had a fight with his older brother one day. The little boy refused to speak to his brother all day. When bed time came his mother went to the little boy and said, “Don’t you think that you should forgive your brother before you go to sleep? The Bible says that we should not let the sun go down on our wrath.” After thinking for a moment the little boy replied, “But how can I keep the sun from going down.”

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The alternative to forgiveness is, in the end, a ceaseless process of hurt, bitterness, anger, resentment and self-destruction.

After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss.

After a brief silence, Lee said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.” It is better to forgive the injustices of the past than to allow them to remain, let bitterness take root and poison the rest of our life.

Move out of your Spite House and tear it down!