Ballard Blocks developers plan to keep Macefield house, ‘excited about possibilities’

Thursday update: Now that we’ve reported the house is staying, there’s a new Facebook event, “No Demolition Day,” scheduled for Saturday between 9 a.m. and noon. “Come tie a balloon to the fence to show your support,” explains the event listing. “Balloons and markers will be provided!”

Update: While rumors fly about the fate of the Edith Macefield house (see below), Ballard Blocks developer Regency Centers told My Ballard this afternoon that they’re keeping the house.

“We have no plans and no intention to demolish this house,” said Craig Ramey, managing director of Regency Centers.

In fact, Ramey said they’re exploring ideas to update the house and tie it into Ballard Blocks II, which is under construction. Some of the ideas include turning it into a community and event space, a pop-up space for local eateries and a flower shop. He said they’ll reach out to the community in the coming months for more ideas.

“We’re excited about the possibilities,” Ramey said.

A new PCC is under construction in Ballard Blocks II, right across the street from Macefield’s house. Further to the east, the second phase of Ballard Blocks II will include offices, retail, a child care facility, a bakery and a restaurant.

Do you have ideas for Macefield’s home? Leave them in comments, and we’ll keep you updated.

Earlier: A Facebook group dedicated to the Edith Macefield house has posted an event claiming the home will be demolished this Friday at 6 a.m. The rumor even sparked a story on

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the famous house at 1438 NW 46th St., and a city document search shows that no demolition permit has been issued. At least yet.

“No permits have been filed for demolition,” confirmed Bryan Stevens with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections in an email to My Ballard. “For small structures, they are often fairly simple permits to obtain. So it’s possible one could be submitted later today or tomorrow morning and be issued by Friday.”

A demolition permit is required before a property owner can demolish a structure, and work must begin after 7 a.m.

But this just could be another rumor, and there have been many since Macefield passed away in 2008. However, previous attempts to save the Macefield home — by transporting it or turning it into a landmark — have all failed to raise enough funding. So the end could be near.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this link — and you can, too — and we’ll let you know if a permit is issued. We’ve also reached out to the Ballard Blocks property managers for more information.

For those new to the neighborhood, Edith Macefield refused to sell her home to the developers of Ballard Blocks, who proceeded to build a retail complex around her. Her fight was believed to inspire the Disney movie “Up”, which explains the balloons that visitors often leave at the house.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

29 thoughts to “Ballard Blocks developers plan to keep Macefield house, ‘excited about possibilities’”

  1. Personally? I’d convert it into a coffee stand and mini museum. Sell coffee and ice cream out of it, as well as supplying a sitting area, a bit of natural beauty around it, and inside have a breakdown of the history surrounding the house and the events that lead to its continued presence.
    looks good, makes some money, remains as a neat local fixture, and attracts tourists and locals alike.

  2. My recollection is that she didn’t leave it to the developers, she left it to the (or a) foreman who had looked after her. She had no ill will towards the developers nor was she making a political statement (the urban legend that this is somehow connected to Up is eye-rolling – but I can’t fault Disney for allowing and/or encouraging it. Mouse has got to make a buck!). She was just happy to stay put. I’m glad she could. He ended up selling it to a 3rd party. I seem to recall the developers weren’t interested at the time.

    The structure has been stripped of anything historical at this point, which is a shame.

    I’d originally assumed the Blocks development was designed to absorb the parcel, but I’m gathering it doesn’t pencil out to do that (or it would have happened long ago).

    I agree it’s cute, and it would be nice for it to be retained as a funky thing and some human scale.

  3. June 15 will be the tenth anniversary of Edith’s passing. If the house survives for two months she should be honored for her spirit and tenacity.
    How many in today’s Ballard know ir remember her story?

  4. Production of “Up” and Edith’s fight coexisted almost simultaneous…. While I don’t think it was the inspiration there’s not way to know unless you contact the writers. Barry Martin was contracted for the Blocks job in early 2005. “Up” was released in 2009. Plenty of time for stories to float around before the big media stories about her refusal to sell that happened in 2008.
    At any rate, Barry’s book is pretty good of its own accord, and an account of the whole thing as well. It’s called “Under One Roof” – give it a read. Edith ruled.

  5. This smells of a hoax. Even if Regency wanted to keep the Macefield house for some reason, the building is so far gone there’s nothing left to keep.

  6. Dear Developers,

    This house is a world-famous landmark, as big or bigger than the Fremont Troll or the Gum Wall. Preserve it. Restore it to look as it did when Edith Macefield lived in it. Make it into a small museum or visitor center — see if a partner like MoHAI might run it as a satellite location. People will come from all over the world (as they’ve been doing) to see it, and will patronize the stores and restaurants in Ballard Blocks.

    Do not move the house! Part of its importance is it’s location in contrast with the shopping center that was built around it. If you moved it, it would become just another old house.

    If you did ever demolish it, you would be losing something valuable, and you’d be robbing Seattle of a bit of its soul.

    Please choose wisely.

  7. Seconding Victor’s comments – I would love to work to restore this house and turn it in to a local spot where people can gather. Given all the development in the area, it would be a nice reminder of what brings all of us neighbors together in this ever-changing neighborhood.

  8. They should add an elevator with rooftop access. Tables and benches for relaxing and soaking in the beauty that spot can provide. Nice tourist attraction.

  9. Some family in Utah or some place is making money off of photo ops because they made their house look like the one from Up – inside too! They should do that with this – for AirBnB and photoshoots.

  10. Restore it, turn it into a museum. Ballard dont need another eatery, nor cafe. There’s more to life than eat & drink. Ballard wants $$ right, keep a piece of history.

  11. I hope they keep this house in place. refurbish it and use it in some appropriate way, but please do not demolish it. This house is important to the soul of the city.

  12. Hello, I was blown away when I found out the house existed. Bummed when I saw how neglected it was. Eager to volunteer in finishing the build. I have a decent amount of experience in updating homes. I have been living and updating the McKays’s house these past few years, keeping ng it as original as it was. It’s a landmark in the Northgate neighborhood.

  13. It could be a break room for the overworked and under paid employees of the corporate owned child care center when it opens across the street.

  14. @Shawn
    Maybe Kshama can stage a “sit-in” at the old Macefield House and demand we ban jockstraps from sporting events and change the days of the week to Esperanto on the city calendars.

  15. I think Edith wished for some one to live in it and
    preserve it. Who would like that local to be a
    permanent residence? I think /thought it looked
    like a Park (information) residence. Maybe a
    little piece of Seattle (historical, Ballard or ethnic)
    museum. I guess it would defeat every cause if
    the is no foot traffic. So, I was in favour of a new
    home in a park. Perhaps Lake Union.

  16. Oh c’mon people. Just turn this place over to our heroin culture. It’s become yet another political football, where we again will witness our famous paralysis by analysis and nothing will be done. Meanwhile, everything else is being brought into this millennium. It’s not cute or functioning at any capacity now. Perhaps a “safe chewing tobacco house” isn’t far off? I will never figure out why people connect so easily to stuff like this? Is this really THE hill some want to die on? Seriously?

  17. It takes an old feart like me to remember but there was a house for many years in the parking area of the grocery store (Tradewell?) and the drugstore (Pay n Save ?) at the SE corner of Market Street and 15th NW.

    Also it seems to me that there was a similar lonesome house at the Northgate Mall for many years – on Northgate way?

    Is it really worth memorializing an old woman’s stubbornness when she could have gotten a bundle for the house and then left the unused amount to a good cause such as Children’s Hospital or other?

    Pls excuse my spelling and English as I Had Mrs Mitchell for three semesters at BHS and she only paid attention to the jocks.

    1. Edith knew she didn’t have much longer to live and simply wanted to die in her own home. It was not about being stubborn so much as not wanting to die in a condo or nursing home. I would say it’s not a memorial to stubbornness, so much as a memorial to the importance of “home”, represented by her little house. There’s something really beautiful about that.

  18. How about a balloon shop? A coffee shop would be good too. A flower shop as mentioned would be a good idea as well. Whatever it becomes, it’s should also honor the owner.

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