Edith Macefield

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Edith Macefield
Born Doris Edith Wilson
(1921-08-21)August 21, 1921
North Bend, Oregon, U.S.
Died June 15, 2008(2008-06-15) (aged 86)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Nationality United States
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) 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[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] (originally reported as a package worth $750,000).[8] Instead, the five-story project was built surrounding her 108-year-old farmhouse, where she died at age 86 in 2008.[9] In the process, she became something of a folk hero.[10]

After she died, Macefield willed her house to the new building's construction superintendent, Barry Martin, in gratitude for his friendship and caretaker role.[6][11] 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."[12]

Early life[edit]

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.[13] 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.[citation needed]


Edith Macefield's house during construction

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.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] In the process, she became something of a folk hero.[10] Instead, the five-story project was built surrounding her 108-year-old farmhouse, where she died at age 86 from pancreatic cancer.[14][9] 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, more than 30 people were reported to have gotten the tattoo.[15][16]

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 (voiced by Ed Asner)'s home is similarly surrounded by looming development.[17] Scriptwriting and production on Up began in 2004, two years before Macefield's refusal to sell to the property developers.[18]

In July 2009, Barry Martin sold the house to Greg Pinneo for $310,000.[19] Pinneo intended to use the house as an office to run his real estate coaching firm Reach Returns.[20] However, on March 13, 2015, the house went through foreclosure auction and was subsequently put back on the market.[19] Pinneo had failed to pay back taxes on the house.[21]

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."[22]

A podcast of 99% Invisible titled "Holdout" (#130) discussed the story of Macefield.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b "Wash. Woman Defiant Despite Development". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). October 3, 2007. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Mulady, Kathy (October 3, 2007). "Old Ballard's new hero digs in as retail project envelops her home". Seattle Post-Intelligencer  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Hartman, Steve (October 12, 2007). "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. Archived from the original on February 21, 2006. 
  9. ^ a b Mulady, Kathy (June 16, 2008). "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. 
  10. ^ a b Norris, Michele (June 20, 2008). "All Things Considered: Remembering Seattle's Edith Macefield". National Public Radio. 
  11. ^ CBC News (April 20, 2015). "Edith Macefield's Seattle house goes 'Up' for auction". Retrieved May 26, 2015. Martin was the construction foreman back in 2006 for the building project, but became close friends with Edith. His friendship soon transitioned into a caretaker role for the elderly woman. 
  12. ^ Cohen, Aubrey (March 10, 2009). "Ballard woman's last stand is still standing". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  13. ^ Edith Macefield, 1921-2008: Ballard woman held her ground as change closed in around her, Mulady, Kathy, seattlepi.com
  14. ^ "Searching for Edith Macefield", seattletimes.com; accessed February 18, 2016.
  15. ^ "Edith Macefield's Army of Tattoos". MyBallard.com. March 26, 2009. 
  16. ^ Mosley, Tonya (March 26, 2009). "Ballard residents honoring Edith Macefield with tattoos". KING-TV. Archived from the original on March 30, 2009. 
  17. ^ Guzmán, Mónica (May 26, 2009). "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. 
  18. ^ "Up Producer/Director". Moviehole. February 12, 2009. Retrieved February 18, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b Raftery, Isolde (March 13, 2015). "Auction Of Edith Macefield's Ballard House Was Mostly For Show". kuow.org. Retrieved May 26, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Washington: Little House Has New Owner and Purpose". Associated Press. July 8, 2009. 
  21. ^ King 5 News (February 4, 2015). "Edith Macefield's house may go up for auction". Retrieved May 26, 2015. 
  22. ^ Copeland, Kwab; Michael Stephens; Chris Harrison. "Macefield Music Festival". Retrieved October 5, 2013. 
  23. ^ 99% Invisible - "Holdout", 99percentinvisible.org; accessed February 18, 2016.