The tale of Edith Macefield is apparently local legend in the Seattle area. In 2007, she famously turned down $1 million for her home, even as developers were literally building a shopping mall around it.
Macefield, who died in 2008 at the age of 86, refused to sell her 1,000-square-foot home to developers for $1 million because she didn’t want to leave her home. So the developers were forced to alter their plans and build the mixed-use office and retail building around Macefield’s home.
The result left her home as a bit of a local landmark and one of the most famous spite houses in the nation. Because the shopping mall was built around her house, instead of the other way around, Macefield's house didn't make HousingWire's list of "The most obnoxious houses built of spite." But honestly, in its heyday, Macefield's house was anything but obnoxious.
Click the image below for a larger look at Macefield's house.
Now, the home is in foreclosure and set to hit the auction block in March. According to a report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (with a h/t to Zillow’s blog), the current owner of Macefield’s home owes more than $185,000 on it.
From the Seattle PI report:
Reach Returns now owes $185,956.04 on the property, according to a foreclosure notice. Unless the company pays that off, the property will go up for auction at 10 a.m. on March 13, at the Fourth Avenue entrance to the King County Administration Building.
According to the Seattle PI report, Macefield bequeathed the home to Barry Martin, who was actually the construction superintendent on the project that surrounded Macefield’s home with a Lifetime Fitness and a Trader Joe’s.
The two apparently became very close throughout the construction process, with Martin reportedly looking after Macefield when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Martin subsequently sold the house to Reach Returns in 2009. Again from the Seattle PI report:
Reach Returns owner Greg Pinneo said he planned to elevate the home to the height of the surrounding commercial building and create a two-level open space underneath, with plantings and water features.
But now, Reach Returns owes $185,000 on the property, which is currently boarded up.
Things weren’t always so bad for the famous house. The house reached greater fame in 2009 when Disney used Macefield’s home to promote the move “Up,” which is also about a homeowner refusing to sell.
In the movie, Carl Fredricksen doesn’t want to give up the home he shared with his wife, so he tied balloons to the home and floated away. Disney tied balloons to Macefield’s home in 2009, although the display was less impressive than in the movie.
Click the image below for larger look at the balloon display.
As for what’s going to happen to the house now, if Reach Returns can’t come up with the money it owes, the home will hit the auction block soon.
There is some thought that the development’s owners could step in and buy the house, with the intention of completing the property’s original design.
But count us among those who think that the house should either be preserved as the ultimate spite house landmark or at least turned into some green space. Who needs another Starbucks anyway? Especially in Seattle!
(All pictures courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)