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Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy July 2, 2021

No, American flag house wasn’t painted by flag-waving Marine in spat with neighbors

If Your Time is short

  • The house painted like an American flag is real. It’s located in Cambridge, Maryland.

  • The homeowner told PolitiFact he painted the house like a flag in 2012 following a dispute with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. 

  • The paint job was not done recently, nor was it done by a Marine whose neighbors said he couldn’t fly an American flag everyday, as several Facebook posts falsely claim.

In the leadup to July 4, an image circulating on Facebook is celebrating a Marine who Facebook users say painted his house red, white and blue to stick it to his neighbors.

"Nice paint job!" one such post says below a photo of the house. "This Marine was told by his neighbors that he could not fly the American flag in his yard all year long. This is his response."

Various posts from June and July were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The house painted like the American flag is real, as is the photo highlighted in the Facebook posts, which shows several ladders set up on the deck and against the house. But the story told by the Facebook posts about the origins of the house’s design is not accurate.

A screenshot of a Facebook post about the house painted like an American flag.

The one-of-a-kind property is located in Cambridge, Md., a city on the Chesapeake Bay. It has been featured on a travel website, and it can be seen via Google Maps. It is still painted like a flag, said Pat Escher, the division manager for Cambridge’s planning and zoning division.

Using TinEye, a reverse image search engine, PolitiFact found versions of the same photo of the house from as early as 2013. Snopes fact-checked a claim about the same photo in 2014. 

Branden Spear, a contractor and the owner of the property, told PolitiFact that he painted the exterior of the house red, white and blue in 2012 following a dispute with Cambridge’s Historic Preservation Commission. He was frustrated with the commission at the time because local building inspectors had objected to the windows he was using to restore a nearby property he had purchased across the street.

"The problem started with the neighboring property," Spear said. "After buying the property, I started to replace the existing vinyl windows, and I saw a commission came to me and said they had to go back to original wood windows. This would increase the cost to around $30k!" 

"The flag house was done up for fun against the commission," Spear continued. "The house has 45 stars, just like the year it was built (in the) early 1900s."

Spear said that he is not a Marine, and that he has never had any trouble with neighbors over the American flag, as the Facebook post claims.

He also discussed the inspiration behind the house during a local news segment in 2019.

Escher said she knew of no provision in the city about flying the American flag.

False claims about the house, like the ones circulating on Facebook, have been around for years and tend to crop up around national holidays, AFP Fact Check reported

We rate these Facebook posts False.

Our Sources

Various Facebook posts, June 13, 2021

Reverse image searches on Google and TinEye, accessed July 2, 2021

Google Maps, accessed July 2, 2021, "Cambridge, Maryland: American Flag and Black House," accessed July 2, 2021

AFP Fact Check, "Patriotic house not painted by defiant US Marine," July 2, 2021

Lead Stories, "Fact Check: House Was NOT Painted American Flag Colors Because Owner Was Told He Could Not Fly American Flag All Year Long," July 1, 2021

WBOC, "Celebrating Freedom With Cambridge's Historic Flag House," July 4, 2019

Snopes, "American Flag House," June 5, 2014

Snopes, "U.S. Flag Legends," Jan. 27, 2003

Email interview with Branden Spear, owner of the American Flag house and Brandon A. Spear Construction, July 2, 2021

Email interview with Patricia Escher, division manager for the planning and zoning division of Cambridge, Maryland, July 2, 2021

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More by Bill McCarthy

No, American flag house wasn’t painted by flag-waving Marine in spat with neighbors

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