Edith Macefield's House | Edith Macefield | Source: Facebook.com/macefieldhouse
Edith Macefield's House | Edith Macefield | Source: Facebook.com/macefieldhouse

84-Year-Old Woman Refuses $1 Million, Forcing a Mall to Be Built around Her House

Junie Sihlangu
Oct 28, 2023
05:45 P.M.

Money can't buy everything, and one woman proved this sentiment when she declined a life-changing offer. The older woman's actions confused many, but she had a heartwarming reason for holding onto her property.


People are sentimental about different things, and often, they cling to pieces and places from their past to cherish the memories forever. When a property developer showed interest in an older woman's home, she didn't respond as expected.

The offer on her house was mind-blowing, but she refused to give in. Read on to find out who this woman was and how she came to be the owner of the much-desired house that she wouldn't let go.

The Mysterious Homeowner


When Edith Macefield bought a home for $3,750 near the Ballard Bridge in Seattle, Washington, she never knew how much the purchase would affect her life in the future. In 1952, she moved into the house with her mother, Alice, and the pair shared many fond memories there.

Macefield worked as a store manager, but her true joy was found when playing the saxophone and writing. She had a unique life story but didn't open up to people often, keeping to herself most of the time. After her mother passed away, she continued living in the 1,050-square-foot home alone.


The Offers to Buy Macefield's House

In 2006, Macefield attracted worldwide attention for her bold actions. Her house, located on prime property, was determined as a plot of interest for significant commercial development. The quiet neighborhood she lived in was at risk as developers purchased home after home.

They initially offered the older woman $750,000 for her beloved but plain property. However, she didn't budge, so they increased their offer to an unbelievable $1 million! Macefield declined the proposition again, shocking the developers and forcing them to build the shopping mall around her house.


Macefield Befriended Someone Unexpected

Curious onlookers tried to learn more about her life, but the older woman was private and mysterious, never revealing too much about her history. However, Macefield found an unexpected friend in Barry Martin.

Martin was a construction manager working on one of the building projects around her home. In a Reader's Digest magazine interview, Martin said he met Macefield by going and introducing himself while she was gardening.


He informed her that he and his team would be doing some work, making noise and a big mess. The man politely gave her his number through his business card and asked her to call him if she needed anything or had any issues.

The elderly woman told him his offer was nice and that having some company would be great. His construction trailer was around 40 feet from her gate, and whenever Martin saw her, he walked over and made small talk.

Macefield told him incredible tales about her time living in Europe and working as a spy during World War II. She offered no proof of these stories, but Martin enjoyed them nonetheless. He was happy to help her with small chores and errands every day, and their friendship blossomed more and more.

Barry Martin, the man who befriended Edith Macefield. He was interviewed by Fox Business on February 16, 2016. | Source: YouTube/Fox Business

Barry Martin, the man who befriended Edith Macefield. He was interviewed by Fox Business on February 16, 2016. | Source: YouTube/Fox Business

Her Friend Sold the House

Martin offered his support when Macefield was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and he never disappointed her. When she passed away in 2008, the 86-year-old Macefield left all her possessions to Martin, including the house.

Martin eventually sold the home after falling on hard times, and he revealed that his late older friend had approved the possibility of a sale in the future. He said:

"She told me to hold out until I got my price. I sold it for $310,000 ... A lot of people thought she was against the development, but that wasn't the case at all."


The Reason Macefield Held onto the Property

Per Martin, Macefield was frail and sickly, so she knew it would have been almost impossible to sell the house and move as she was old. However, there was another reason she held onto her home until the end of her life.

Macefield passed away in her living room and maintained a special connection with the home because it meant a lot to her mother. In a letter Martin found after her passing, the older woman wrote:


"[My mother] had never had a home of her own. What could I do? I bought her the house. Even if I wanted to, I'm too crippled to move. But even so, I'll never give up the contentment my Mother and I found here."

Macefield's Home Is Remembered as the 'Up' House

Over the years, the home has passed through various owners, and the building still draws attention. Thanks to the hit animation movie "Up," the house gained popularity, and many believed the film was based on Macefield's story.

However, Martin revealed the actual connection between his friend and the film. Disney used the home to promote their project and took photos with the unmissable colorful balloons. Martin said:

"[Disney] wanted to put balloons on the house for their premiere here in Seattle. So they came out and put balloons on the house and took a picture, and that's how it became the 'Up' house."

Macefield's loyalty to her home and the determination to hold onto it was heartwarming. Click here for another beautiful story about an older woman who didn't want to part with her family house.

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