A Homeowner Who Wouldn't Sell, Part II

Edith Macefield refused to sell her Seattle home to a developer, who built his complex AROUND her house.
Edith Macefield refused to sell her Seattle home to a developer, who built his complex AROUND her house.

One of Steve Hartman's more memorable reports was about a woman who stubbornly refused to sell her house, even as a giant building went up all around her. The story's taken another twist, as Steve found out in tonight's "Assignment America":

At the bottom of a 5-story chasm sits a story-and-a-half … a story about a little old lady who stood up to a big new development. You've probably seen similar stories, but I promise, you've never seen one that ends quite like this.

It started, for me at least, about a year-and-a-half ago when the walls were just beginning to rise around the home of 86-year-old Edith Macefield. I'd flown to Seattle to ask her why she turned down a million-dollar offer from developers.

For those of you don't remember that interview …

"Go away!"

… That's probably because it never happened.

Even after I sent her flowers and offered to help with the chores …

"Do you want some help, Edith?" Hartman asked.


Macefield proved to be as unwelcoming to me as she was to change in general.

But apparently there was another side to Edith - a sweet side. I found a picture of her hanging on the refrigerator door of Barry Martin, the construction project manager - the man basically in charge of walling her in.

"You really ended up enjoying her company?" Hartman asked.

"Oh, yeah," Martin said. "We got along and we thought a lot the same ways."

When the building project began three years ago, Barry started checking in on Edith - just as a courtesy. Then one day she asked him if he wouldn't mind taking her to the beauty parlor; Barry obliged.

Later it was the doctor's office - and pretty soon he was cooking her three meals a day and visiting her on weekends.

That explains why she re-gifted my flowers to him.

Barry was the closest thing to family Edith had - a responsibility he took seriously, especially after Edith was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"She didn't want to be put into a nursing home," Martin said. "She wanted to stay there and die in her house where her mother died. And I kind of realized that if I didn't do it, she wasn't going to be able to do that."

So, even though he has a family of his own, Barry (left) became Edith's primary caregiver. Thanks to him, she was able to stay in her house all the way to the end.

"It's funny, every time I come in here I expect to look over there and see her," he said.

Her house is now his house - Edith left it to him.

Today it's not worth a fraction of what it was. But that's OK.

"I walk around there and look at things and think about her," Martin said.

Seems the owner still isn't ready to sell.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.