5 Outrageous Stories of Real-Life ‘Up’ Houses

HouseLogic presents the stories of five home owners from around the globe who, like old Carl Fredricksen in the Disney-Pixar movie “Up,” just wouldn’t move out and move on.

The house that inspired Carl Fredricksen's home in the movie Up, shown here with balloons as a promotion for the film, belonged to Edith Macefield of Seattle. Image: Geoff Carter

Your home is your biggest investment. It’s where your family gathers and it’s the one place you can call your own. So in good times and bad — in times of high property values and low, in the fall when the furnace needs a tuneup, and in the spring when it’s time to clean out the gutters — you give your home all the care and support it needs. But there are times when it’s better to let it go, like when someone offers you 10 times its market value. 

Seattle

This real life Up house (pictured here with balloons as a promotional stunt for the release of the film) belonged to Edith Macefield. Both are now local legends in her community, memorialized by many with a tattoo of the house created in their honor. In 2007, she refused to give in to developers who offered nearly $1 million for her small house worth just $8,000 at the time, on land valued at $120,000.

Only after she died was it sold, but to a quite appropriate new owner: a local company known for motivational seminars. Rather than tear it down, they’re going to elevate it to be the top floor of their new offices.

Chongqing, China

This now-infamous building in Chongqing Municipality, China, had been handed down for generations. At the time of its intended destruction, it was owned by Wu Ping and Yang Wu. When the site was targeted to make way for construction of a shopping center, the owners refused to sell and staged a protest, which at one point included Yang marooning himself in the building with limited supplies.

The developers had no choice but to construct around them until three years later, March 2007, when the small building was finally demolished. The building might be gone, but it is remembered by those who play the video game it inspired.

Washington, D.C.

Owner Austin Spriggs let a windfall pass him by. For a time, Spriggs was in the perfect negotiating position. His building along Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C., was a condo developer’s dream location, and they were offering him millions of dollars for it.

But he refused each and every one—every time holding out for more—until eventually the offers dried up. Four years later, Spriggs traded fending off buyers to fending off the bank that wanted to foreclose on the property. Ouch.

Windy Hill, UK

Stott Hill Farm, built in the 18th century, earned the nickname “Little House on the Prairie” and local fame for being a stick in the mud—the “mud” being two lanes of a highway that fork around the property. Urban legend says the owners at the time the road was built were stubborn as can be, but in reality, the area’s uneven geology prevented developers from even trying to build the highway through the farm.

New York, New York

This 12.5-foot-wide brownstone, dubbed “the skinniest building in Midtown” by one location scout, sits smack in the middle of two tall buildings on West 46th street—an area better known for office towers than architectural relics of days gone by. The story behind it is unknown, but in a city where almost every square inch is occupied, surely there was a family who once stood up for its preservation. Manhattan nearly swallowed this building up, but didn’t drown it out completely.

How long would you hold out?

Becoming a home owner is a pretty good feeling—there’s just nothing like having a place to call your own. But we can’t all take our houses with us like the widower in Up. Is it worth hanging on until the bitter end? With developers knocking at your door or the noise and chaos of construction disrupting your life—at what point is it time to throw in the towel and take the money? Let us know what you think in the comments here or on our Facebook page.