10 Houses Painted in Protest
Homeowners who paint their houses unusual colors, like Mr. Plumbean in this classic children's book, are sometimes doing it just for fun. But sometimes their motivations are all about making a statement or getting revenge. Spiteful paint jobs are a common way for people to get back at strict city ordinances, historical commissions, homeowners' associations, bigoted neighbors and even banks. And like spite houses, they're fun to look at. Here are a few examples.
1. Topeka, KS
Gawker reports that an activist group has purchased a house across the street from Westboro Baptist Church, which has gotten national attention for its vehement anti-gay activities as well as the anti-gay slogans posted on signs on its property. Now church-goers will have a house-sized gay symbol to look at every Sunday morning: The owners are painting the new house to resemble a rainbow flag.
2. Cape Cod, Mass.
The owners of this historic house applied for permits to alter the building, but they were repeatedly turned down. According to a 2010 article from the Cape Cod Times, they denied that they commissioned the garish green and yellow update to get revenge, but it seems a clear case of a spiteful paint job.
3. Lubbock, Texas
The city cracked down on the landlord of this house for allowing unrelated occupants to live in it together. So the landlord thumbed his nose at the city by painting the brick house purple, with black and yellow polka dots. Eventually, though, the landlord settled with the city and agreed to return the house to its original color.
4. Edenton, N.C.
A development company reportedly painted this house yellow with purple stripes in 2011 to express frustration over a dispute with their bank, according to local news outlet WVEC. When neighbors protested, the owners hastily painted over the bright colors with white paint.
5. Thorntown, Ind.
An Indiana homeowner was insulted when town officials accused him of neglecting his child. He posted angry signs in his windows, painted odd designs on his house and filled the yard with outrageous lawn ornaments like a boat and a giant styrofoam alligator.
6. Avondale Estates, GA.
A homeowner in Georgia, denied permission to change the front steps of his house, painted the whole thing bright green with purple spots to get revenge on the local Historic Preservation Commission. The Los Angeles Times reported that many neighbors painted purple dots on their own houses in sympathy. Within a month, the mayor overruled the earlier decision and the owner was able to alter his front steps.
7. Napa, Calif.
In 2010, a Napa resident spray-painted expletives all over his home’s exterior in an attempt to send a message to employees of the gas station next door, who he complained were using their leaf blower too late in the evening. (Napa city ordinances prohibit businesses from using noisy equipment after 9 p.m.—the neighbor claimed that he heard gas station employees working with the leaf blower at 10.) A code enforcement officer for the city said there wasn’t much they could do: “It’s his own property and he has the right to paint it,” she told the Napa Valley Register.
8., 9. Cambridge, Md., and Bradenton, Fla.
In 2013, this photo of a home in Cambridge, Md.—and the alleged story behind the patriotic paint job—went viral. According to the rumor, its owner was told to take down an American flag he had flying in his yard, and, in protest, painted his entire house red, white, and blue. In reality, the reasons for the makeover weren’t quite as patriotic—the homeowner was actually protesting the historical code after building inspectors told him that his restored Victorian’s windows weren't in compliance.
In Bradenton, Fla., last June, a Florida man outfitted his home in the stars and stripes after he was cited for several local code violations, including peeling paint, a lack of window screens, and trash in the yard. Officials first noticed that his house was in violation after they received an anonymous complaint that his 15-foot Christmas tree had fallen over in the front yard.
10. London, England
The owner of a townhouse in London’s posh Kensington neighborhood—worth £15 million—hired painters to give her residence candy stripes after neighbors blocked her plans to demolish the building and, in its place, build a brand-new home boasting a two-story basement with a pool. Unless she repaints, the Chelsea and Kensington neighborhood councils have threatened to prosecute under a section of a local act that states that a property’s condition should not “adversely affect the amenity of the area.”
Portions of this post originally appeared in 2013.