H is for House

Or is it home? To me, these four stone walls are just a house, a place where I have lived for 15 years. It’s true that when I walk in the front door I totally let my guard down. But I would leave this house in an instant if a better offer came along, like, say, a million dollars.

Not so for Edith Macefield, the woman in Seattle who refused to sell the house she lived in for some 50 years even though she supposedly was offered $1 million for the little house that would probably go for $50,000 anywhere else. Why was the house so valuable? Because commercial development was coming to town. But she wanted to live out the rest of her days in that house, and you know what? She did. She was 84 in 2006 when the developers unsuccessfully tried to buy her out, and she died about two years later, in 2008, at age 86. I guess she showed them.

Apparently she became quite the local celebrity, seen by many as an inspiring a documentary, a biography, a music festival, a cocktail and a tattoo. (Read about it in today’s New York Times.)

The funny thing is, the house is still there, but not for long. It’s up for sale because the current owner seems to have neglected to pay property taxes. Oops. Because current zoning regulations forbid residential use, conventional wisdom has it that the house will be torn down, and there’s talk of doing something with the land to preserve Ms. Macefield’s legacy. Looking at the picture in the Times, it seems like the logical solution would be some kind of green space.

A lot of folks really admire Edith Macefield. It’s not that I don’t – I totally get the desire to stay in the place you’ve called home for 50 years.  The part I don’t get is the desire to call one place home for 50 years.

H is for House

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