Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

Seattle, Washington

Edith Macefield's House

The tale of a strong-willed woman who stood her ground when the 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 Japan’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 who 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.

Contributed by
M Mordy
Edited by