Edith Macefield’s modest Ballard home, made famous when she refused to sell to a developer, has a colorful, temporary facade of balloons. Dozens of bids have been made for the house.

Share story

All Edith Macefield wanted to do was live and die in the home her mother had lived and died in. And she did, turning down an offer reported to be more than $750,000 to vacate.

She died in the house seven years ago at age 86.

Now Edith’s modest Ballard bungalow has a more colorful facade than ever before. Hundreds of balloons attached to the chain-link fencing out front move in the wind.

Edith Macefield’s Old Ballard house has stood alone, tucked between towering new developments, since her death in 2008. Seven years later, its fate may finally be decided. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

The tiny house, at 1438 N.W. 46th St., no longer has a tree on the west side. Edith’s old blue Chevy Cavalier is long gone.

The views on three sides are no good since five stories of development called Ballard Blocks grew up around her.

To many, Edith represents Old Ballard and a strength-of-will few could muster. She said, “This my home … I don’t care about money.”

Her story of resolve traveled worldwide.

People make a pilgrimage of sorts to this spot to leave messages on the fence.

One says, “Even though I never knew you I think you are very brave. You stood up for what you believed in.”

Shirley Teplitsky brought her two children by recently because the balloons remind them of the movie “Up.” She says, “It’s great she stood her ground and wanted to stay. Money did not skew her happiness.”

The home is zoned commercial or industrial and 38 bids for its purchase have come in to broker Paul Thomas this month. Soon he’ll announce if there’s a successful buyer.

Thomas says, “The thing that really struck me is the outpouring, the emotional attraction, the appeal of the story. She wasn’t greedy. What she did resonated.”

Her old home may be moved or demolished.

But the new owner must build a “durable and significant memorial” to Edith, according to Thomas.

“It’s an important place,” Thomas says. “It’s not a normal house.”

Northwest Wanderings is an occasional column by Alan Berner set throughout the Pacific Northwest.