elderly woman watering plants
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
April 2, 2024 ·  3 min read

84-Year-Old Refused Million Dollar Offer, Forced Shopping Mall To Build Around Her House Instead

If a developer came along and offered you one million dollars for you to leave your home so they can build a mall, would you take it? For Edith Macefield in Seattle, Washington, a million-dollar offer wasn’t enough. Over a decade later, her little home still stands. (1)

The Million Dollar Offer That Got Denied

Back in the mid-2000s, developers wanted to build a massive shopping mall on land where people were living, including Edith Macefield. After being offered a nice sum, all of Edith’s neighbors were happy to take the money and go. Edith, however, was not so easily convinced.

When she refused to move, the developers gave her a million-dollar offer, which again, she quickly turned down. To her, her little home full of precious memories was worth far more than any developer could ever pay her. (1)

“I don’t want to move. I don’t need the money. Money doesn’t mean anything,” she said to the SeattlePI in 2007. (1)

With nothing left to do, the developer was forced to change their plans and build around Edith’s house and small yard. (1)

A Lasting Legacy

Unfortunately, just a few short years later, Edith passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2008. Before she died, however, she secured the future of her 1000 square-foot house in an unlikely place: Construction chief Barry Martin, who worked the site next to her home. (2)

The unlikely pair became quite close over those years. When Edith received her diagnosis, Barry was the one who took her to all of her hospital appointments. In her will, she left her small house to Barry, who she knew would do his absolute best to preserve her beloved home. (2)

There is some speculation that perhaps Edith’s story inspired the 2009 Disney movie Up. A bunch of balloons was tied to the top of the house as a clever promotional stunt for the film, however, other people started adding their own balloons by tying them to the front gate. (2)

Read: Meet the man living in a 22,000-square-foot mansion rent-free

From a Million Dollar Offer to an Uncertain Future

Barry wanted to turn the old house into a memorial for Edith, unfortunately, his plans fell through and he had to put the house up for auction. A real estate company won the auction with the goal of converting the old house into a coffee and bakeshop. (1)

By the time they re-did the walls and replaced all the windows, they knew this was more than they could handle. The cost of remodeling such an old house was just too high, and many aspects just weren’t feasible. (1)

With $300,000 owed in lien taxes, the bank foreclosed Edith’s house. An investment management company took hold of it, but their attempts to sell it also came up dry. No one wanted to pay $170,000 for the house plus the $300,000 in owed taxes. The home was soon set to be demolished. (1)

A Failed Rescue Mission

OPAL Community Land Trust came on board in 2015 in an attempt to save the home. They created a crowdfunding page in an attempt to raise enough money to cover the house’s debts. Once debt-free, they planned to move Edith’s house to Orcas Island, Washington, to be sold to a low-income family. (3)

Unfortunately, they reached barely a fraction of their crowd-funding target, and their plans also fell through. (3)

The future of the house is currently uncertain, however, there are rumors that it will be replaced by a public square with a memorial to Edith and her home, or perhaps even be turned into a pop-up business or event space. (1) For now, it does still stand at 1438 N.W. 46th Street for people to see, it even has its own trip advisor page. If you live in Seattle and haven’t seen this little relic of a time gone by, then go have a look before it’s too late.

Keep Reading: This Village Without Roads Is Straight Out Of A Fairytale Book


  1. Edith Macefield’s house that wouldn’t back down getting a new life.” Seattle Pi. Zosha Millman. April 18, 2018.
  2. Edith Macefield’s House.” Atlas Obscura.
  3. Save Edith Macefield’ “Up House” from Demolition!” Kick Starter.