Plum Island Pink House- The Ultimate Spite House

The Newbury MA Plumb Island Pink House- Spite House

Historic Newbury Landmark

If you live in North Shore or Merrimack Valley, MA, and have headed to Plum Island, you have passed the Plum Island Pink House.  It is a memorable historic landmark as you travel to Plum Island.   

The Pink House, even today, is stark and sits all alone, surrounded by the flat salt marshes of Newbury. It is an image that is remembered.  And the house certainly gets the imagination running.

It is an American Four Square Home from the early 20th century, painted pink, sitting all alone out on the barren salt marshes of Newbury.

As for me, an avid landscape photographer, after doing the full-time real estate gig, it is undoubtedly a great stop for some great photographs.

I have run into the backstory on the Newbury Pink House on several occasions over the past several years. 

Most recently, I ran into an article on houses that have been built to annoy or anger someone, where the iconic pink house of Newbury, MA, sat first on the list.  One of the intrigues of the Newbury Pink House is that it was built out of spite!

What is a Spite House?

A spite house is built or enhanced to annoy someone, usually a neighbor. 

It can be a house that is built or has had an addition to block a view of a neighbor, is painted a god-awful color, made not to fit into the neighborhood etc….  It is meant to get under someone’s skin, whether it is built or enhanced.

Getting even with someone seems like a costly act, but people do it!  Think it’s not common?  Here are four houses built out of spite in Massachusetts.

The Newbury Plum Island Pink House- A Local Spite House

The Plum Island Pink House is iconic.  You can’t miss it as you travel from Newburyport to Newbury onto Plum Island.  Just about everyone in the area recognizes it and is intrigued by it.

It sits out on the barren marshlands on the right as you approach Plum Island.  The pink house just feels so alone out in the sea of marsh grass.  Abandoned and in disrepair, the house feels so vulnerable to the weather as there is nothing around it to block the weather from the river, ocean and marsh.

Local lore suggests the back story of the house was part of a divorce agreement in the 1920’s. 

A wife agreed to divorce her husband, who was an attorney.  As part of the divorce, she insisted the husband build the duplicate of their four-square home in downtown Newburyport.

Here is the rub.  She didn’t specify where the house was to be built in her poorly drafted divorce agreement regarding the home.

So the ex-husband built her a house in the worst spot he could think of…. out on the lonely salt marshes on the way to Plum Island with no running, freshwater to boot!!

Think how lonely the house sits in 2017…. it must have been way worse in back in 1925.

The Plum Island Pink House Built Out of Spite? Fact or Myth?

I have tried to trace back ownership of the Pink House in the registry of deeds and have found that the “spite house” story is not supported by the chain of title. 

It appears the Plum Island Pink House story may be more of local lore than fact.  The story of it being a spite house is supported by many local articles on the Pjnk House and reports of local spite houses.  But the actual chain of title doesn’t clearly support the story.

The house probably leaves many wondering who would build a house in such a stark and lonely area and the story of the home helps fill in the gaps.

The Newbury Pink House Today

Today, the pink house is long abandoned since the early 2000’s and is now owned by the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. 

It has been slated for demolition to make for other uses of the 9.2 acre parcel by the National Park Service. But with much local displeasure, the demolition has been delayed.

The fate of Newbury’s pink house is still undecided.  Many would like to see it rehabbed in its original state and used an artist’s center.  Only time will tell us what will come of the pink house.

Support The Pink House Continues to Try And Save The Pink House

This month’s recent meeting between the US Fish And Wildlife and the local nonprofit Support the Pink House to decide the fate of the Plum Island Pink House.  Time appears to be running out for the house as a dialogue about saving the house has been going on since 2015.

For years, Support The Pink House had been trying to orchestrate a land swap to take ownership of the house, but deals kept falling through, preventing the viability of the swap.

It is at a crossroads, and the Fish and Wildlife Service will decide the fate of the Pink House in the upcoming months.

Parker River Wildlife Refuge

The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area in northeastern Massachusetts, United States, established primarily to conserve migratory birds. Spanning over 4,700 acres along the Atlantic Flyway, it encompasses a variety of habitats, including beaches, dunes, salt marshes, and freshwater marshes, making it a vital habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

Key features and aspects of the refuge include:

  1. Bird Watching: The refuge is renowned for its birdwatching opportunities, particularly for migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, and songbirds. It’s an important stopover for migratory birds, making it a hotspot for birdwatchers, especially during the spring and fall migrations.

  2. Diverse Wildlife: Besides birds, the refuge supports a variety of other wildlife like deer, small mammals, and a range of marine creatures. Its diverse habitats make it a crucial area for the survival of these species.

  3. Environmental Education and Research: The refuge is active in environmental education and research, offering programs to educate the public about wildlife conservation and the environment. It also facilitates scientific research on its diverse ecosystems and resident species.

  4. Recreational Activities: Visitors to the refuge can engage in several recreational activities such as fishing, wildlife photography, and hiking. There are designated trails and observation areas for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty and observe wildlife.

  5. Conservation Efforts: The refuge plays a crucial role in various conservation efforts, including habitat restoration and species protection. Its management practices aim to maintain and improve habitat conditions for the benefit of wildlife.

  6. Community Involvement: The refuge involves the community in its conservation efforts through volunteer programs and partnerships with local organizations.

  7. Historical Significance: The refuge is also significant for its historical aspects, including its role in the region’s cultural and natural history.

Overall, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is an important site for wildlife conservation, environmental education, and recreational activities, contributing significantly to the preservation of Massachusetts’s natural heritage.

Make The Visit to Newburyport and Plum Island

If you live in Northeastern Massachusetts and have yet to visit Newburyport and Plum Island, take some time to do so.  And, of course, you won’t miss the Plum Island pink house along the way

Newburyport is a tourist coastal town with many quaint shops and plenty of restaurants while Plum Island offers miles of National Wildlife Reserve and some great beaches. 

I love the Sandy Point State Reservation at the end of the island.  It is peaceful, quiet and stunning.  Parking is limited, but it makes for the best beach day if you can get there early enough to park.

So, how far would you go to spite someone?

Houses For Sale on Plum Island


Sandy Point State Reservation past the Plum Island Pink House onto the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

Sunrise at Sandy Point State Reservation

Sunset at Sandy Point State Reservation in Newbury MA along route don't forget to check out the Plum Island Pink House

Joppa flats from Newburyport

Plum Island Pink House- The Ultimate Spite House is provided by Kevin Vitali a real estate agent serving Tewksbury as well as the Merrimack Valley region. If you would like to sell your home give me a call at 978-360-0422 and let’s get the process started.


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