10 Things Done Completely Out of Spite


The Pink House

The Pink House on Plum Island is the focus of a major effort to save it from demolition. Jim Fenton/Save the Newbury Pink House
The Pink House on Plum Island is the focus of a major effort to save it from demolition. Jim Fenton/Save the Newbury Pink House

Over the years, numerous people have used "spite houses" — dwellings that are strangely designed or decorated, or located in devilishly inconvenient places — as a way of getting back at everyone from city officials and neighbors to ex-spouses after an acrimonious breakup.

One of the most extreme examples of a spite house is the famous Pink House on Plum Island in Massachusetts. According to a 2015 New York Times article, the garishly-colored structure sits alone in a desolate area, "overlooking a vast flat landscape of pristine salt marsh."

Its apparent origin: Back in 1925, a woman agreed to give her husband a divorce, provided that he built for her an exact duplicate of the house that they shared in town. Not wanting to give her the satisfaction of besting him, he did so, but put the house in the least desirable location he could find: an island without any other inhabitants or fresh water. Surprisingly, the house was lived in until 2011 [source: Bolick]

Despite its spiteful history, local artists have developed a curious affection for the Pink House, which was sold by its last private owners to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in 2012, and is now off-limits to the public. They've started a lobbying group to convince federal wildlife officials not to demolish it [source: Coffey].

Author's Note: 10 Things Done Completely Out of Spite

This assignment stirred up some confusing emotions in me. On one hand, I couldn't help but be amused at some of the clever ways that people have dreamed up to get back at someone for a slight, whether real or imagined. But as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that time spent seeking payback is time lost from doing something more positive and fulfilling. And sometimes, perhaps, simply not allowing another person to inspire resentment might be the best revenge.

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