Edith Macefield

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Edith Macefield
Born (1921-08-21)August 21, 1921
Died June 15, 2008(2008-06-15) (aged 86)
Seattle, Washington, USA
Known for Real-estate holdout

Coordinates: 47°39′44″N 122°22′31″W / 47.662316°N 122.375358°W / 47.662316; -122.375358

Edith Macefield (August 21, 1921 – June 15, 2008) achieved worldwide notoriety in 2006 when she turned down US$1 million to sell her home to make way for a commercial development in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] In the process, she became something of a folk hero.[9] Instead, the five-story project was built surrounding her 108-year-old farmhouse, where she died at age 86.[10]

After her death it was revealed that Macefield willed her house to the new building's construction superintendent, Barry Martin, in gratitude for the friendship he had shown her during the construction.[6] 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."[11]

Personal life[edit]

Macefield was born in Oregon in 1921 and learned French, German, and other languages. She joined the service[clarification needed] and went to England, where she was later taken out of the service after they discovered she wasn't 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. She died on June 15, 2008 at the age of 86.[1]

Her house[edit]

Edith Macefield's house during construction

Edith turned down a US$1 million offer to sell her home in 2006 to make way for a commercial development in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] In the process, she became something of a folk hero.[9] Instead, the five-story project was built surrounding her 108-year-old farmhouse, where she died at age 86.[10]


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 March 2009, ten people were reported to have gotten the tattoo.[12][13]

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.[14]

In July 2009 Barry Martin sold the house to Greg Pinneo for $310,000. Greg Pinneo intends to use the house as an office to run his real estate coaching firm Reach Returns.[15]

In October 2012, Reach Returns and the developer Lois MacKenzie launched a remodeling project of the Macefield house by installing new windows and expanding the attic space to make room for a bedroom and bathroom. A second phase of construction will include raising the house and constructing a public space below called Credo Square. According to the developers, the space will feature plants and flowing water, and will be surrounded by tiles that can be purchased (from US$250) featuring the purchaser's name and credo.[16]

The first annual Macefield Music Festival was held October 5, 2013, in Ballard. Promoters offered multiple genres and venues, claiming the event "...will be an affordable way to explore the current landscape of Seattle music while celebrating the steadfast attitude of the dearly departed Ms. Macefield." [17]

A podcast of 99% Invisible titled "Holdouts" features the story of Mrs. Macefield.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b "Wash. Woman Defiant Despite Development". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 2007-10-03. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Mulady, Kathy (2007-10-03). "Old Ballard's new hero digs in as retail project envelops her home". Seattle Post-Intelligencer  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Hartman, Steve (2007-10-12). "The Woman Who Wouldn’t Sell: She’s Standing In The Way Of Progress - So They’re Building A Shopping Center Around Her". CBS Evening News. 
  8. ^ a b Westneat, Danny (2006-02-08). "Big offer for tiny home leaves woman unmoved". Seattle Times. 
  9. ^ a b Norris, Michele (2008-06-20). "All Things Considered: Remembering Seattle's Edith Macefield". National Public Radio. 
  10. ^ a b Mulady, Kathy (2008-06-16). "Edith Macefield, 1921-2008: Ballard woman held her ground as change closed in around her". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Macefield's stubbornness was cheered by Ballard residents tired of watching the blue-collar neighborhood disappear under condominiums and trendy restaurants. 
  11. ^ Cohen, Aubrey (2009-03-10). "Ballard woman's last stand is still standing". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  12. ^ "Edith Macefield's Army of Tattoos". MyBallard.com. 2009-03-26. 
  13. ^ Mosley, Tonya (2009-03-26). "Ballard residents honoring Edith Macefield with tattoos". KING-TV. Archived from the original on 2009-03-30. 
  14. ^ Guzmán, Mónica (2009-05-26). "Wind sabotages 'UP' balloon display over Macefield home". The Big Blog. SeattlePI.com. When publicists for Disney's "UP" announced they were going to tie balloons to late local hero Edith Macefield's house in Ballard as a promotional stunt, we thought hundreds, maybe even thousands of the colorful helium globs would reach into the sky, dwarfing the small bungalow below and putting the surrounding complex to shame... Turns out the display had many more balloons when it was first set up at 9 a.m. Then the wind blew, pushing the balloons into the surrounding walls, where they began to pop. 
  15. ^ "Washington: Little House Has New Owner and Purpose". Associated Press. 2009-07-08. 
  16. ^ Walker, Meghan. "Renovations underway on Edith Macefield’s house". myballard.com. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Copeland, Kwab; Michael Stephens and Chris Harrison. "Macefield Music Festival". Retrieved October 5, 2013. 
  18. ^ 99% Invisible - Holdouts