stubborn home owners
Penelope Wilson
Penelope Wilson
December 26, 2023 ·  6 min read

10 Determined Homeowners Who Refused to Leave Their Homes at All Costs

For many people, the place they call home is truly important. Many of us have witnessed parents or grandparents refusing to leave their lifelong homes to move into assisted living or elsewhere. The truth is, it’s just too difficult to leave the place you call home. The place you’ve built over the years, a place brimming with all the wonderful memories of your life. 

However, urbanization is inevitable. Real estate development is transforming the world around us, where developers buy up properties regardless of the homes and families living in it to build offices, malls, hospitals, and other ultra-modern complexes. 

Well, you can’t honestly stop the government from developing or a property investor from doing business, but it hurts all the same. Homeowners are often forced to sell their homes, and sometimes, the compensation fees aren’t anywhere near “compensating”. 

Here are 10 of the most determined homeowners we’ve seen so far:

10. Mr. Austin Spriggs

Developers in Washington offered Mr. Spriggs $2 million to sell the small building that had housed his architectural firm since 1980. Spriggs refused the offer and insisted on getting more money. He was offered almost $3 million at one time and he still held out. People around were making mountains of cash off developer compensation fees, but Spriggs felt he could get more.

Four years later, all the houses around his had been excavated and high-rising towers were built everywhere, making his home the only dent in the entire strip. He later sold it for $750,000 when his bank threatened foreclosure, a major loss compared to his initial offers.

9. Yang – lonely house on the hill

This house looks like it survived some sort of freak explosion, but the reality is far from it. A man named Yang in Yichang, Hubei Province of China refused to sell the three-story building housing his home and shop in 2012 when he couldn’t agree on a compensation amount with the developers. After a two-year legal battle with the local government, they started excavating around his house, leaving it standing on a pile of earth.

Yang’s story takes a sad turn as he was forced to move out with his family to a rented apartment in town. Later, due to financial struggles, the family moved back into the house on the hill. The developers have cut off the electricity and water, and now they have to fetch water from a river about a kilometer away from the house. They use lamps and candles for lighting. 

8. Motorway split in half

A homeowner in China’s city of Ningbo in Zhejiang province refused to sell his home after plans were laid out for a motorway to run over it. The government proceeded to build two halves of a road where motorists would have to drive around the little house to the other side of the road until the owner reaches an agreement with the developers.

7. Edith Macefield

In one of the most remarkable stories about love for one’s home, 84-year-old Edith Macefield rejected a $1 million offer to leave her home in Ballard, Seattle, in 2005. She watched as her neighborhood was transformed into an ultra-modern hub with high-rising towers of glass and steel. Right beside her home, a massive mall was erected but she still refused to relocate.

Macefield later became great friends with the chief contractor, Barry Martin who began to take care of the elderly woman, taking her to the doctor and helping with food runs. Before she died in 2008, she willed her little house to Martin, who decided to leave it standing, odd and completely out of place, in her honor.

Macefield’s home is rumored to be the inspiration for the Up movie produced in 2009. Although the speculations are unconfirmed, Carl and Edith have similar stories, and the movie production company had a bunch of balloons put up on Edith’s house as a promotional stunt.

6. Lou Baogen – In the middle of a highway

A duck farmer in China’s Zhejiang province was determined to keep his house with his wife, and the government had no choice than to build a highway around it. Baogen insisted that the compensation was unreasonable, and while the government removed adjacent buildings, Baogen and his wife continued to live in their five-story home.

5. Niu Chuangen and zhang Zhongyun

A couple in China’s Shangdong province were literally “cut off from the rest of the world” in 20019 when developers excavated the land around their home to build high-rise towers. The man and his wife are both in their sixties and have been threatened severally by gangsters who have attempted to force them out of their home. Yet, they stay on, despite having their electricity and water cut off.

4. Ring Road, Guangzhou

Three Chinese families refused to move out of their little neighborhood when government developers came to build a four-way flyover to connect the city’s road networks. It got to the point when construction workers forcefully attempted to demolish their homes, but they fought back. In the end, the developers built a ring road around these three homes and the families have stayed on, completely surrounded by a busy highway.

3. Robert H. Smith 

In one of the most iconic hold-outs in New York’s real estate history, American developer Robert H. Smith stood in the way of one of the largest fashion department stores in the United States, Macy’s, by buying a five-story building marked for demolition for $375,000. It was reported that Smith bought the house on behalf of another departmental store that wanted to stall Macy’s expansion.

Well, since Macy’s couldn’t get rid of the building, they made some adjustments and built their complex in front of the building, which continues to stick out like a sore thumb while being used for advertisements.

2. An obstacle in the middle of nowhere

A farmer and his wife in East China’s Shangdong province refused to leave their home when the government proposed plans to build a highway through it. Many of their neighbors took compensations and moved out, but the man was determined to get more money for his property. The government ended up building a road on either side of the house, where small vehicles can only drive around it on a dirt road. On the other hand, trucks and large vehicles have to turn around and take a detour.

1. A farm smack in the middle of an airport

In what is regarded as the longest and deadliest conflict of Japan’s post World War II history, a group of farmers refused to give up their homes for the government to build the Narita Airport. The battle lasted 39 years and claimed the lives of 13 people. The government eventually claimed enough land to build the airport, but it had just one runway instead of the initially planned three. The lone runway was built then too dangerously close to the farms. However, the owners do not mind the intense tremors they experience whenever a plane lands or takes off, and since the airport’s opening, no less than 90 planes use the runway daily.

Finally, in 2005, the Airport authority gave up trying to evict the farmers who are still in the way of the southern expansion of the airport.

  1. Health Network. The 84-year-old woman who rejected a one million dollar relocation offer, forcing shopping mall owners to build around her home. The Hearty Soul. Retrieved 09-04-2020