The nonprofit organization OPAL plans to move the UP house out of Seattle's Ballard neighborhood to Orcas Island

By Emily Zauzmer
Updated July 30, 2015 05:45 PM
Credit: David Ryder/Landov; Inset:Everett

Just like the Academy Award-winning movie Up, the tumultuous history of Edith Macefield’s house appears to have found its happy ending after all.

OPAL (Of People and Land) Community Land Trust, a nonprofit organization, is raising money to save the home from destruction by moving it from its nook in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood to Orcas Island in Washington’s San Juan Islands.

In 2006, Macefield, who passed away in 2008, rejected an offer of $1 million when commercial developers wanted to plow down her Seattle property. After Up premiered in 2009, viewers drew obvious parallels between the sweetly stubborn Macefield and the film’s lovably crotchety protagonist Carl. Disney took notice as well, tying balloons to Macefield’s house Up-style while promoting the film.

But the story turned sour when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported in June that the 115-year-old farmhouse had gone into foreclosure and would be torn down in 90 days if it were not sold.

The idea that Macefield’s house might be demolished went over like a lead balloon among the public.

A mother-daughter duo made a bid to purchase the house and convert it into a pie shop, but city regulations made the proposal too expensive.

But then the happy ending seemingly arrived. Beating out several other interested buyers, OPAL, an organization which provides inexpensive housing for low-income residents of Orcas Island, swooped in before the 90-day deadline.

Within the next 60 to 90 days, OPAL plans to transport the house via truck and carry it across the water via barge. Once the structure has reached Orcas Island, OPAL will put the house back on a truck for a two-mile journey to its new locale. To speed up the final leg of the trip, OPAL will temporarily shut down the island’s Eastsound Airport and use the runway as a faster route. OPAL has relocated 10 homes in the past.

“I can’t tell you how excited OPAL is about saving this house and having a family live in it,” states Jeanne Beck, OPAL’s Stewardship and Project Manager, in a press release on Wednesday. From the first time I saw Edith’s house, I wanted to save it and now we can.”

Real estate broker Paul Thomas adds that Macefield’s home will have more breathing room in its new spot. “It will be surrounded by trees, not by towering cement walls. Rather than being forlorn and vacant it will be lived in and loved,” he says.

Using Kickstarter as a platform, OPAL is trying to raise $205,000 by Sept. 15 to move the house, refurbish it for its future inhabitants, and buy the land on which the house will rest.

“The house really will float away, but not by air,” Thomas notes in a July 30 press release. “I can’t possibly imagine a more wonderful ending for this chapter of the Edith Macefield story.”