Edith Macefield moved into Whitewood Cottage in 1952 and lived there until her dying day aged 86. In 2006 she became famous for refusing a $1 million offer from a developer who wanted to buy her house and turn it into a mall. She stayed strong and the developer had no choice but to build the mall around her property line.
“Edith stood her ground for what she believed in and for her home, the only one she ever knew! She did not want to be forced out”
While the construction of the mall was happening, protective walls were built around the house and an unlikely friendship with the Construction Manager Barry Martin developed. He would check up on her to make sure she was okay and when she became ill with cancer he cared for her until she passed.
Edith left the house to Barry. When Barry cleaned up the house he found that the many stories Edith told where true and wrote a book, called Under One Roof, about their relationship and the lessons he learned.
Barry sold the house to a buyer and put the money away for his childrens education which was Macefields wish. Since Barry sold it, it has passed through many hands. Many times its future was unknown and threats of demolition were made.
The reason the house is known as the “Up” house is because the story of Edith’s home and her fight is pretty much the same as Carl Fredricksen from the movie Up. It was rumored that the movie was inspired by the real house but apparently writers started with the script for Up in 2004 which was two years before the developer approached Edith about her house in 2006.
But the stories are so similar that the Up movie PR firm actually used the real house as a way to promote the film therefore linking them forever.
Up came out in 2009 a year after Edith passed.
The last update to the ownership of the house was in June 2016 when the Bank donated the property to OPAL Community Land Trust. The Trust helps refurbish old homes and then moves them to Orca Island for families that cannot afford to buy homes on the traditional market.
Unfortunately, the fund was unable to raise the fees to move the house to the island and had to forfeit the donation but the house was re-bought by KG Investments, the very same company that assisted in the building of the mall and a unanimous decision was made to leave the house to stand… exactly where it is.
Supporters check in regularly and add encouraging messages on the Facebook page, Sythiane Santiano left this message:
“Please preserve it. It’s one symbol of giving importance to something of value over money. A very good example to humanity. That house and the great lady have made history.”
Tim Coleman said:
“In my opinion it’s far more valuable as a historic landmark that will actually bring people to the mall then a few more feet of retail space.”
However her story is not over yet! There are numerous projects that have started in honour of Edith, her fighting spirit and her ‘Up’ house.
An entire music festival has been created to honour her, tattoos of the house have been etched into supporters skin and a company created a massive mural in the street in front of the house that can only be seen when its rains.
There is no knowing what will eventually happen to the ‘Up house’ but even if it does get demolished, the memory of Edith will live on forever.