|7/9/15 ink, watercolor, colored pencils, opaque white|
I didn’t know Edith Macefield, but I have a feeling she led a quiet, unassuming life for most of her 86 years – up until 2006. That’s the year she and her tiny, 108-year-old farmhouse in the Ballard neighborhood gained worldwide fame. Offered a million dollars for her property by a developer, she refused to sell. So the commercial property was built around three sides of the house.
Edith died a couple years later, and I guess she didn’t have any family, because she gave the house to the new building’s construction superintendent. She left behind an interesting legacy, however, including (apparently) the inspiration for the Disney film “Up,” which features a similar tiny house surrounded by development.
Although the house’s notoriety has made it something of a tourist attraction, I didn’t even know about it until I saw Gabi Campanario’s sketch of it in 2012. At that time, plans were afoot to turn it into a cute rental cottage, but that plan and various other efforts made to save the house have all fallen through because of difficulties in bringing the house up to current code.
It’s up for sale, the siding has been removed, and it’s probably going to be torn down any day now. When I saw Susan Miller’s and Peggy Gloth’s recent sketches of the house, I was reminded that I have been meaning to get over there before it’s too late.
As I sketched it this morning from across the street, it looked like a hut in a dark canyon of gray buildings. An LA Fitness is on one side and a Ross Dress for Less on the other. Neighbors and other passers-by have tied colorful balloons to the chain link fence in front of the property, and scraps of older balloons remain. Progress marches on.