Edith Macefield House (2008)

photo by: Ben Tesch, Flickr

November 16, 2015

The Story Behind Seattle's "Up House"

The home of the late Edith Macefield has stood in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle for more than a century, but its fame has only developed over the last decade through the tenacity of its former owner, and with a little help from pop culture. It is now, undoubtedly, the city's most iconic historic home.

The late Edith Macefield moved into the house at 1438 NW 46th St. with her mother in the early 1950s. She remained there peacefully until a developer approached her in 2006 with a proposal to buy the property as part of the site for Ballard Blocks, a future retail mall.

Though the house was the last piece of the developer's real estate puzzle, Macefield wouldn't sell, even for a reported $1 million.

Instead, Macefield expressed her wish to stay in the house for the rest of her life. The mall was redesigned and built around the house. Macefield passed away in 2008 at age 86, but the house remains (pictured above as it looked in 2008).

This situation is reminiscent of the beginning of the Disney Pixar film Up. Macefield’s house didn’t inspire the film, as some have thought, but publicists looking to promote the film attached balloons to the house in 2009. The move cemented Macefield's former home as the “Up House." Since then, visitors from around the world have attached balloons and messages to the property fence in honor of Macefield and her story.

Since Macefield's passing, the house has changed hands several times and is mostly a shell of its former self. In October, the Ballard Blocks development reportedly bought the property, but its future remains uncertain.

Even so, the legacy of Edith Macefield and her house continue to be embraced by Ballard residents and people the world over. Supporters have created a Change.org petition and organized a music festival in Macefield's name. A local tattoo artist has even created a design in her memory.

For additional news, history, and photos of the Edith Macefield House and its former owner, visit its Facebook page here.

Edith Macefield House (2015)

photo by: anokarina, Flickr

The Edith Macefield House in 2015, with balloons and messages attached to its fence.

Nick Totten headshot

Nick Totten was an editorial intern at the National Trust. He takes particular delight in historic museums and libraries. In addition, he enjoys performing music, playing with words, and appreciating the local sites and views on foot.

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