SEATTLE — Edith Macefield's tiny house in the old waterfront neighborhood of Ballard — likened by many people to the house in the Disney movie Up, in spirit and architecture — will have to be torn down or hauled away, its owner said on Monday.
Macefield, who died in the house in 2008 at age 86, became a legend almost a decade ago when she refused to sell her 600-square-foot home to make way for a commercial development, forcing a big-box retail complex to be built around the house. The current owner, an investment management company that obtained the house after a mortgage default, had said this year it hoped a new buyer could be found who would keep Macefield's memory and legacy alive.
Although a winning bid emerged, the buyers, who planned to open a coffee and pastry shop in the space, found that bringing the roughly 115-year-old structure up to code requirements would be prohibitively expensive. They backed out.
"Bringing new life to Edith Macefield's house isn't financially viable," said Paul Thomas, the broker handling the sale.
Selling the home to someone who wanted to live there would also be difficult since current zoning prohibits residential use without a variance from the city.
Macefield has inspired a local musical festival, a rye-based cocktail and at least a few tattoos spotted in Seattle. Visitors and tourists have also flocked to the site in recent months as the house's fate hung in the balance.
"After reviewing the situation, the seller has reluctantly concluded that their best option is to donate the house, ideally to a nonprofit, and then sell the land," Thomas said.
He said the owner will accept proposals for the next 30 days from individuals or groups willing and able to haul the building away, intact — and as is — free of charge. A wrecking crew will come in 90 days later if what Thomas called a "qualified recipient who is capable of moving the house" is not found.