UPDATE: After writing this post, Clotilde Luce, a former resident of Jackling House, started an organization, Uphold Our Heritage, whose purpose is to preserve Jackling House. If you’d like to support their efforts, please click this button which will enable you to donate to the group’s Paypal account.
Apparently, Steve Jobs never met a historic home he couldn’t imagine tearing down to replace it with something soulless, sleek and new. Certainly not the Daniel C. Jackling House (1926) which he’s owned in Woodside, CA since 1983 (Free to a Good Home: A Captain of Industry’s Rejected Mansion).
Jackling House vista (credit: Woodside History Committee-all photos from this source unless otherwise noted)
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote a good story in October, 2004 describing the home:
The house in Woodside sits hidden in the woods on a private lane off Mountain Home Road and was built in 1926 for copper baron Daniel C. Jackling. It was designed by George Washington Smith, who created the red-tile-and- stucco look of Santa Barbara and neighboring Montecito and whose Pettigrew House in Palo Alto is on the National Register of Historic Places. Smith homes in Santa Barbara and Montecito sell for tens of millions of dollars.
George Washington Smith created the architectural style
of Santa Barbara, but Steve Jobs “never heard of him.” (credit: Architect.com)
The Woodside Town Council has just approved Jobs’ questionable plan to tear down the home if he cannot find someone to take it off his hands–free. I say, if Jobs wants to build a new home there–let him. But why not make him pay the $2.5-million it’d take to relocate it and rebuild it? Why the Town Council has let Jobs off so lightly is a mystery to me. You mean poor Steve can’t afford to shell out the extra $2.5-million? That’s nothing for the likes of Steve Jobs, all he has to do is sell a few hundred thousand more iPods to make up the difference. If I were Steve Jobs, I’d move the house, restore it and recruit a non-profit organization to manage it as a museum dedicated to the architectural legacy of George Washington Smith or to California architecture. Instead of coming across as a boorish, uncultured philistine, for a change Jobs would come across as a mature, civic-minded individual. What a difference that would make!
Daniel C. Jackling House–a Steve Jobs tear down?
Instead, this clueless Joe has made the following ignorant comments about his home showing he has an absolutely tin ear and obtuse mind when it comes to understanding the value of preserving a culture’s architectural legacy:
Jobs, the billionaire chief executive of Apple and Pixar, who has called the mansion, built for an earlier captain of industry, the copper baron Daniel C. Jackling, “one of the biggest abominations of a house I’ve ever seen.”
At a hearing earlier this year, he explained that he had always intended to knock it down, calling the house “poorly built” and professing never to have heard of the architect, George Washington Smith, revered elsewhere in California for creating, among other things, the architectural look of Santa Barbara.
“Why should I invest a lot of money to keep it protected when I want to tear it down?”
“It was never really a very interesting house to start with,” he told the planning commissioners. “So I think I could build something far, far nicer and far more historically interesting down the road.”
He described [the house] as “pretty much a dump when I moved in.”
Mr. Jobs said of Mr. Jackling: “He was a very wealthy man. Unfortunately, he didn’t have very good taste.”
Says who, Mr. Jobs? And you have better taste? Please don’t make me laugh! And finally we have this nugget from his attorney, who doesn’t appear to have a much more developed sense of decency than his client: “All he wants is the house off the property,” Mr. Ellman said. “What happens next is of little or no concern.”
Thalia Lubin, architect and member of the Woodside History Committee put the lie to all of this intellectual chicanery in this statement: The estate is “part of the cultural fabric of the town,” she said. “Every time you lose one of those threads, you’ve lost a little bit of history.”
Harry Kolb, a Santa Barbara real estate agent specializing in sales of George Washington Smith homes, places Smith into broader architectural context:
Smith is “revered” for his neo-European designs and wanted the homes to appear upon construction as if they had been expanded over the generations. He used multiple roof lines and non-functioning chimneys and varied the iron work adorning windows. Inside, he designed corner fireplaces, tile floors that rose slightly higher in the center of the room and rooms twice as long as they were wide with coffers, beam work and painted medallions in the ceilings to create an intimate feel, Kolb said.
Smith also liked to surprise homeowners with steps going up or down into a room simply for artistic purposes and indoor-outdoor walkways that would force residents to go outside to get to their bedrooms or other rooms in the house.
Kolb considers the homes works of art but knows they are not suited to everyone.
“I can understand someone saying a house of the 1920s isn’t appropriate today. They didn’t have kitchen-living rooms, their closets were small — people have more than three changes of clothing today. On the other hand, it’s just as easy for somebody who really likes that type of architecture to point out all the things that are special and that you don’t want to lose.”
Why should the architectural judgments of Neanderthals like Steve Jobs be substituted for architectural historians like the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which decries the effort to tear down the Jackling House?
Clotilde Luce, an architectural preservationist who lived in the Jackling House in the 1970s and is leading the effort to preserve it said this about Jobs’ plans: “I think it’s irresponsible and predatory to deprive the house to future owners, ones who know the value of a 17,000-square-foot masterwork by a great California architect.”
Cities, towns and neighborhoods throughout this country are fighting losing battles to preserve their architectural heritage. Young nouveau riche like Steve Jobs come along and feel they need to make their own architectural statements with the new palaces they wish to build. They know nothing of what has come before them. They care little what will come after them. They want what they want when they want it. Pity the poor, decrepit old home that stands in their way.
Don’t know about you, but I can do without Apple products in my life as long as Steve Jobs wants to be the Attila the Hun of historic preservation. Shame on you, Steve Jobs. You should know better!
Some of the above quotations come from this article in the International Herald Tribune (also published in the New York Times): Steve Jobs brings down the house