The “Up” House ventures out of Ballard Blocks

A single blue car, parked outside of 86-year-old Edith Macefield’s home, told broker Paul Thomas that an elderly woman still kept her stance against city development.

“The day I saw that blue car was gone, I knew things were changing,” said Thomas.

In 2006, the car was parked outside of a home worth $1 million. Macefield refused this amount from developers for the Ballard Blocks shopping center because she wanted to pass away peacefully in her own home.

When she did pass away in 2008, the blue car disappeared and a three-story shopping center wrapped around her small farmhouse, along with a grey, chain-linked fence.

Change was evident.

IMG_2790But with this change sprouted brightly-colored balloons entwined between the fence’s chain-links, symbolizing the charm of Macefield’s defiance and giving her home the name of the “Up” House.

On Aug. 4, Thomas announced that the “Up” House will stay the same, but its surroundings will soon change. The non-profit organization named OPAL Community Land Trust will move the home to a new location on Orcas Island.

OPAL has built and re-located homes on Orcas Island for the past 26 years, providing affordable housing to a community with one of the largest affordability gaps in Washington, according to Executive Director Lisa Byers.

The “Up” House will be the eleventh home OPAL re-locates for families on the Island. Byers said if they raise enough funding, the move will keep Macefield’s spirit alive by giving the home a purpose again.

“We were captivated by the story and wanted to keep that legacy going,” said Byers.

Worldwide visitors, along with the Ballard community, tie their own balloons to the fence in honor of Macefield. Since Pixar’s release of “Up” in 2009, the house has become a tourist attraction for the Seattle area.

To broker Thomas, honoring Macefield’s memory was a key requirement for any buyer looking to purchase Macefield’s home.

“The house needs to not disappear into thin air,” said Thomas. “It would be a huge disappointment to those who love the site.”

Thomas was the second caretaker of the “Up” House after it foreclosed in March 2015, a task that proved to be difficult. While there were many buyers interested in the home, challenging city regulations discouraged buyers from making the purchase.

OPAL plans to not only keep the “Up” House afloat, but also honor Macefield by renovating the exterior to look as it originally did.

The exterior today includes signs along the chain-linked fence that read, “Stick it to the man,” and “Save the ‘Up’ House,” emphasizing the home’s symbolic resistance to development in Seattle as whole.

According to the Department of Planning and Development, Seattle will grow by 120,000 residents in the next 20 years. The city today struggles with this predicted growth rate.

Having worked in Historical Preservation for 10 years prior to OPAL, Byers sees Seattle’s development as a threat to buildings similar to the “Up” House.

“Artifacts and buildings are the touchstones that keep people and their stories alive,” said Byers. “The changes in Seattle bring mixed emotions.”

But with development also comes opportunity. According to Byers, four individuals donated their homes to OPAL recently because of the development. This gave affordable living for four different families on the Island.

“When people have a place to call home, they can go on and live their lives and participate in the community,” said Byers.

An idea that Byers considers to be the everlasting message of Macefield’s home.

Even though OPAL will remove the home from its original land within the Ballard Blocks, according to Thomas, the move will preserve the “symbol of something very unusual and highly appreciated.”


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