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4.4
7 votes

Edith Macefield House

1438 NW 46th St, Seattle, Washington 98107 USA

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“Legendary home of a Seattle folk hero”

In the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, there's a huge shopping mall with a strange hole in the center of the building. Inside that gap sits a tiny house with an amazing story that some say inspired Pixar's UP.

Edith Macefield wasn't your average senior citizen. At 84 years old, she saw the quirky little neighborhood of Ballard becoming more and more gentrified. Old houses were being replaced with boutique shops and diners replaced with condos. When developers came knocking on her little two-story home with plans to bulldoze the surroundings and build a shopping mall, she refused to sell, even after they offered her a million dollars.

When asked why she wouldn't sell, her answer was simple:

Where would I go? I don’t have any family and this is my home. My mother died here, on this very couch. I came back to America from England to take care of her. She made me promise I would let her die at home and not in some facility, and I kept that promise. And this is where I want to die. Right in my own home. On this couch.

The developers had no choice but to build around her, and as they did, she formed an unlikely friendship with the construction chief, Barry Martin. He found himself looking after Edith, picking up her medications, groceries, and eventually bonding with the stubborn woman. When he began to notice that Edith didn't seem to keep any weight on, it was he who drove her to the hospital and sat with her when it was discovered that she had pancreatic cancer.

When Edith passed away at the age of 87, everyone discovered that she had done something completely unexpected: she had willed her home to Barry. 

Now, Edith has become something of a folk hero, inspiring locals to get tattoos of the small house, a home that has now been lovingly remodeled, its leaning walls fixed and its windows replaced. Plans are in the works to raise the house and add a public square below, with flowing waters and a garden.

Whether or not the tiny house in Ballard was the true inspiration for UP is debatable, but Edith Macefield's story has left an inspiring legacy all on its own

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Reviewed by
Dawn G. Johancsik

  • Road Warrior
  • 51 Reviews
  • 47 Helpful
August 29, 2014
Rated 4.0

This is a lesson in morals. This women has got the heart of Seattle. The house is going to be renovated and maybe opened to the public.

Read the signs and donate if you believe in the cause.

It's not in the best part of town, however, I never felt threatened. It is between large buildings and makes you feel pride for someone who stood up for the little person.

You can only look through the fence, there is no entrance.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Greg Newkirk

  • Expert
  • 316 Reviews
  • 314 Helpful
September 17, 2014
Rated 4.0

One of the most inspiring sights in the city of Seattle. The tiny house that Edith Macefield refused to sell to developers, causing them to actually build a shopping mall AROUND it, has become a symbol for the wonderfully weird Ballard neighborhood, and it's great to see.

Right now, it's all boarded up and fenced off, but there are plans in motion to actually turn it into a little garden where people can appreciate the statement Edith made. Until then, it's a great place to reflect on your own thoughts about "selling out to the man". Or, you know, just take a cool picture of a neat place and move on.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
kelly.hobart.92

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
March 22, 2014

I would of done the same thing...What a good lady down to earth and she has the right morals and values too...God bless her!!!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
RidahLinsangan

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
March 19, 2014

Remarkable! I too would do the same knowing that there isnt any place to go and that having that right, I would stick to my guns

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Plvogel

  • 98 Reviews
  • 28 Helpful
June 1, 2015

I went after Edith passed away. The gate outside the house was covered with balloons and flowers. The house is located "off the beaten path", kind of far from anything else of interest in Seattle.

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Reviewed by
Selena1006

  • 25 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
April 15, 2015
Rated 5.0

Amazing little house surrounded by the mall. Make sure you leave a balloon and kind words. They have the balloons, marker and string to hang it from the fence.

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Edith Macefield House

1438 NW 46th St
Seattle, Washington
98107 USA

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