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Elderly 'Up' homeowner turned down the million-dollar offer, forced mall to build around her home

She had bought the property for $3,750 in 1952 and lived there with her mother until her death in 2008.

Elderly 'Up' homeowner turned down the million-dollar offer, forced mall to build around her home
YouTube screenshot/CBSN

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 27, 2022. It has since been updated.

In 2006, Edith Macefield became a local hero after refusing to bow to corporate power. Her home in Seattle, Washington, was surrounded by a mall on three sides. Macefield, who was 84 in 2006, was living in her modest farmhouse when she was approached by people who wanted to build a new mall where her house stood, along with a few others adjacent to hers. She had bought the property for $3,750 in 1952 and lived there with her mother, Alice. At the time, she worked as a store manager at Spic 'N' Span Cleaners. In 2006, the house was 108 years old. Property developers were buying up properties in the area with the idea of building a mall at the location, reported Fox Business.


Even as other properties were snatched up, Macefield refused to give up her land. The property was small, and her home was more than 100 years old, but the property was instrumental to their plans for the mall. The property developers offered Macefield $750,000 for giving up her property and home before increasing their offer to $1 million. For Macefield, money wasn't any motivation, so she refused the offer as well. Faced with no option, they built a five-story complex around her home. Her refusal to give in to the power of money while holding on to her small house has drawn comparisons to Pixar's 2009 animation film "Up." In the animation film, an elderly widower Carl Fredricksen refuses to sell his house even as high-rise buildings come up around him.

Up poster/Disney-Pixar


While many claimed the movie was inspired by the story, the production of the movie actually started in 2004, while Macefield refused to sell her home in 2006. However, Disney, which distributed the film, used Macefield's home to promote the movie because of the similarities in their stories. A huge set of colorful balloons were tied to the top of the home, just like the movie. “They 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,” said Barry Martin, a construction manager on the plot, who was also great friends with Macefield.


While many speculated Macefield was taking a stance against big money, she didn't want to move houses. It was as simple as that. She had spent a considerable chunk of her life in the home and couldn't fathom moving to another home at the age of 84. This was confirmed by Barry Martin, who worked as the construction manager on the development. She didn't see him as a threat or a rival, but as a friend and it was a relationship that would grow with time. So much that she would write the home in his name before passing away in 2008.


Barry Martin was always there for her in her final years. From driving her to a beauty appointment, doing favors for her including helping with laundry, giving her lifts to doctors, and even cooking her meals. Martin was forced to sell the property when he ran out of work during an economic crisis. He explained that she gave him her blessing to sell it. “She told me to hold out until I got my price. I sold it for $310,000,” Barry Martin told Fox Business. “A lot of people thought she was against the development, but that wasn’t the case at all," she said. It was more a case of she didn’t want to go through the exercise of having to move.”

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