Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Defending the Homeland

Just like in the children's book "The Little House," by Virginia Lee Burton, the city imposes itself on the little house. But this little house wouldn't go.

In place of the working class Scandinavian families and cottages, the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle became home to industrial buildings, chemical plants, abandoned lots, and garbage left everywhere. Edith Macefield's house was the last one standing on her block. Government assessors put the value of the house and land as less than $110,000.

In recent years gentrification saw the neighborhood fortunes change once again. Developers rushed in but Edith Macefield refused to sell her 108-year old little cottage. She refused developer offers of nearly $1 million. She's been there for over fifty years; she wanted to stay. And that was that. Soon her little house was surrounded by a five story health club and a Trader Joe's.

When she died last year, Ms. Macefield willed the property to Barry Martin, the construction manager who oversaw the five-story development that surrounded her house. He has sold the property for $310,000 to a developer who will leave it essentially where it is. They will keep the home exterior intact, elevate the house and create a two-level gated open space beneath it. The house itself will become office space.

The story is at the Seattle Times

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