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Edith Macefield: The 84-Year-Old Who Refused a Million Dollars and Forced a Shopping Mall to Build Around Her House
Have you heard of Edith Macefield? This old lady turned down a million dollar offer to sell her home to make way for a shopping mall in Seattle, Washington. Without Edith’s land, the developer had to alter the building’s plan so that it would meander around the small, two-story house. At 84 years old, Edith become a folk hero. And if you think her house looks familiar, it’s probably because it looks amazingly similar to (and could be the inspiration for) the famous flying house in Pixar’s animated film UP.
The story of Edith Macefield reached the public for the first time in 2006, when she refused to relocate and make way for a large shopping mall in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle. Over the decades, Edith had the chance to see drastic changes taking place in her little neighborhood. Gentrification enabled the replacement of old houses with boutique shops and condos, and eventually these commercial structures closed in on her house. Developers offered her no less than a million dollars to move—an offer which she famously refused. The shopping mall was eventually built, but it had to be modified so as not to disturb Edith’s property.
Edith passed away in 2008 at the age of 87, but she still managed to surprise everyone one last time. She had willed her home to Barry Martin, the construction chief at the adjacent building site, with whom she formed an unlikely friendship. Barry looked after her and drove her to the hospital after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Since Edith’s death, the house has been remodeled—its walls fixed and windows replaced. Plans are in the works to eventually raze the house and create a public square below, in memory of Edith’s bravery and integrity.
Lead image via Yelp
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