Refuse to Live in the Spite House
October 09, 2018
“Let all bitterness…be put away from you.” Eph 4:31 NKJV
In 1882 a New York businessman named Joseph Richardson owned a narrow strip of land on Lexington Avenue. It was 5 feet wide and 104 feet long. Another businessman, Hyman N. Sarner, owned a normal sized lot adjacent to Richardson’s skinny one. He wanted to build apartments that fronted the avenue, so he offered Richardson a thousand dollars for the slender lot. Richardson was deeply offended by the low offer and demanded five thousand dollars. Sarner refused, and Richardson called him a tightwad and slammed the door on him. Sarner assumed the land would remain vacant and instructed the architect to design the apartment building with windows overlooking Richardson’s land. But when Richardson saw the finished building, he resolved to block the view; no one was going to enjoy a free view over his lot! So seventy-five-year-old Richardson built an apartment building on it, 5 feet wide, 104 feet long, and four stories high. Upon completion he and his wife moved in. Only one person at a time could ascend the stairs or pass through the hallway. The dining table was eighteen inches wide. A newspaper reporter of some girth once got stuck in the stairwell, and after two tenants were unsuccessful in pushing him free he exited only by stripping down to his undergarments. The building was dubbed “the spite house.” Richardson and his wife spent the last fourteen years of his life there. In 1915 it was torn down. Revenge builds a lonely house with only enough space for one person. The lives of its tenants are reduced to one goal: Make someone miserable. They do. Themselves!