Edith Macefield's House – Seattle, Washington - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Edith Macefield's House

The tale of a strong-willed woman who stood her ground when the commercial world came rumbling in. 


The late Edith Macefield became somewhat of a folk hero when she refused a $1 million dollar offer to sell her small, quaint home in Ballard, Seattle.

Reminiscent of China’s “nail houses” (homes belonging to people who refuse to sell or vacate their property to make room for development), Macefield’s 100-year-old farmhouse defied commercial builders as businesses and storefronts sprang up around it. At the time, the stubborn Washingtonian explained herself succinctly, “I don’t want to move. I don’t need the money; money doesn’t mean anything.” 

The bulldozers, steamrollers, and cranes that began to dominate the landscape as urban development continued apace only served to accentuate the charm of her aged home. Her old blue car and now-obsolete white fence remained all throughout the work, evidence of their owner’s determination.

Sadly, Macefield passed away in 2008 leaving her home to Barry Martin, the senior superintendent of construction, with whom she had developed a warm relationship. Martin sold the house the following year to a real estate agency, which agreed not to raze the building. Instead, they intend to lift the house to accommodate commercial enterprises while also renting the home to long-term visitors in a compromise that would hopefully satisfy Ms. Macefield.

As locals tell it, the story of this house inspired the Disney movie Up, in which an old man in a similar predicament uses thousands of balloons to lift his house away from the construction site. This is, however, a myth. The movie screenplay was already mostly written by 2004, before this story happened in real life.  In 2009, when the movie was released, Disney attached balloons to the Macefield house to attract publicity. Though the house is now in a sad, stripped state, fans continue to add balloons to the fence.

In 2018, the developer behind Ballard Blocks told Curbed that they were planning to integrate the house into the design as an event space or a home for pop-up restaurants.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web