Edith Macefield (August 21, 1921 - June 15, 2008) was a real estate holdout who received worldwide attention in 2006 when she turned down an offer widely reported as $1 million to sell her house to make way for a commercial development in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington (originally reported as a package worth $750 thousand). Instead, the five-story project was built surrounding her 108-year-old farmhouse, where she died at age 86 in 2008. In the process, she became something of a folk hero.
After she died, Macefield willed her house to the new building's construction superintendent, Barry Martin, in gratitude for his friendship and caretaker role. Martin told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Two or three times she was basically going to sell and move, and then I know the last time she ended up falling and breaking some ribs, and that kind of took the gas out of her, and then it was just too much work."
Macefield was born in Oregon in 1921 and learned French, German, and other languages. She joined the military and was sent to England, where she was later taken out of the service after officials discovered she was not 18 years old. Macefield stayed in England where she took care of war orphans, and later moved back home, where she took care of her mother and worked at Washington Dental Service.
House Not Selling Video
Macefield turned down a reported $1 million offer to sell her home in 2006 to make way for a commercial development in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. In the process, she became something of a folk hero. Instead, the five-story project was built surrounding her 108-year-old farmhouse, where she died at age 86. The house is located at 1438 NW 46th St.
Curtis James of Anchor Tattoo, a Ballard tattoo artist, has since created a design based on Macefield's house in remembrance of her, and as a commitment to, "holding on to things that are important to you." As of June 2015, 30+ people were reported to have gotten the tattoo.
On May 26, 2009, Disney publicists attached balloons to the roof of Macefield's house, as a promotional tie-in to their film Up, in which an aging widower's home is similarly surrounded by looming development. Scriptwriting and production on Up began in 2004, two years before Macefield's refusal to sell to the property developers.
In July 2009 Barry Martin sold the house to Greg Pinneo for $310,000. Pinneo intended to use the house as an office to run his real estate coaching firm Reach Returns. However on March 13, 2015, the house went through foreclosure auction and was subsequently put back on the market. Pinneo had failed to pay back taxes on the house.
The inaugural Macefield Music Festival was held October 5, 2013, in Ballard. The event included multiple musical genres, in several venues. The promoters said it "...will be an affordable way to explore the current landscape of Seattle music while celebrating the steadfast attitude of the dearly departed Ms. Macefield."
A podcast of 99% Invisible titled "Holdout" discussed the story of Macefield.
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