In the corner between Northwest 46th Street and 15th Avenue, in Ballard, Seattle, wedged between a Trader Joe's and an LA Fitness, lies a little cottage. Surrounded by towering concrete walls on three sides, the hundred-year-old house belonged to late Edith Macefield, a stubborn old woman, who famously turned down $1 million in 2006 refusing to sell her home to make way for a commercial complex. In doing so, she became something of a folk hero cheered by Ballard residents who were tired of watching the blue-collar neighborhood disappear under condominiums and trendy restaurants. The publicity surrounding her case was so widespread that it forced the developers to build the five-storey building around her 108-year-old farmhouse. Macefield’s iconic house became inspiration for the 2009 Pixar movie Up.
"I don't want to move. I don't need the money. Money doesn't mean anything," she was quoted saying to the Seattle P-I.
She continued living in the little old house she bought in the 1950s until her death in 2008, even after concrete walls rose around her. When cranes towered over her roof, Macefield simply turned up the television or her favorite opera music a little louder. "I went through World War II, the noise doesn't bother me," she said.
Twice or thrice she came very near to selling her home and moving, but the last time she did, Macefield ended up falling and breaking some ribs. After that it became too much hassle to move. In fact, Macefield didn’t oppose progress at all. She simply thought she was too old to move.
During the construction, Macefield made an unlikely friendship with Barry Martin, the senior superintendent of the construction project engulfing her home. Martin spent two years nursing the elderly Macefield, whose health was declining. He fed her, stayed long nights with her, listened to her unbelievable stories about being a spy in World War II, about escaping from a concentration camp, about hobnobbing with Jean Harlow and Charlie Chaplin. He cleaned her house, bathed her, took her to doctor's appointments, ran her errands.
When she died of pancreatic cancer in June 2008, Macefield left behind the house to who else but Barry Martin. He later sold the house to Greg Pinneo for $310,000 who turned it into an office to run his real estate coaching firm. In October 2012, the house underwent a remodeling project - new windows were installed, and the attic was expanded to make room for a bedroom and bathroom. The owner now plans to raise the house and construct a community event space below.