Steve Jobs: Attila the Hun of Architectural Preservation
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
38 thoughts on “Steve Jobs: Attila the Hun of Architectural Preservation – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Thanks for your post to my blog at http://mmeiser.snth.net/blog/2004/07/apple-ceo-steve-jobs-determined-to.html
I very much enjoyed reading your post and the other resources you had collected. It’s was a very pleasant suprise indeed. I just wanted to post this here in case you missed my response to your comment on my blog.
I found a few other interesting sources of information with a quick google.
a) a book on the architect
b) some related realestate ads
Though a hare redundant, this is a very enjoyable way to have a conversation. If you do find any other information please let me know.
Sadly, as much as I opposed him tearing down the house… 1) I can’t live without my Mac (OK, well, I *can* technically, but it wouldn’t be fun) and 2) he’s probably one of the less objectionable CEOs out there in terms of negative influence on the world (like some who gave big bucks to help reelect Bush!)
I have a disagreement with your post. Especially this statement, which I think sums it up:
“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”
Everything is history to someone. If we were to follow this logic, then no one should be living in houses at all because it obstructs the history of the natural world that existed before houses.
Preserving history is a ridiculous and frivolous pursuit. The world grows and improves, and new cultures are created, by the people that look towards the future, not insecurely clinging onto the past.
If George Washington Smith had clinged to history as tightly as your post suggests Steve Jobs should, then he would have never created the architectural style you are trying to protect.
I feel silly emailing this to you. If I don’t agree, I should not read. If you enabled comments on your posts it would be a different story. Then there could be an open discussion about the issue of Steve Jobs’ house.
First, a word of explanation about the last paragraph of Phil’s comment. When I wrote this post I used a blogging software called Ecto to publish it. It’s usually very good, but does have its moments. I’d just installed a new version of Ecto & it somehow cancelled my blog post configuration to turn trackbacks & comments off (though I always keep them on). A day or two after publishing, I noticed several recent posts had comment turned off & I immediately turned them on again. It is presumptuous & unfair for Phil to assume that I closed comments to avoid debate. In fact I encourage debate everywhere in my blog. That is why I’ve now published Phil’s comment here & I welcome any further comment he might wish to make.
Phil: You make a reasonable pt. about not allowing history to calcify the development of our economy or civilization. But I’m afraid that the U.S. is nowhere near the point where our preservation guidelines are so stringent that it prevents architects & property owners who wish to build new edifices fr. doing so. It’s all too easy to tear down just about any building you want whether worthy of preservation or not in this country. So I have no sympathy for yr. pt. of view on this.
I’m happy to say that architecture is a much more sophisticated art than you give it credit for being. We can evaluate the significance of buildings & judge whether they’re worthy of preservation or whether it won’t cause a great loss to tear such a bldg down. All the architectural critics & historians who’ve spoken about Smith’s architecture & this house uniformly believe it’s worthy of preservation. Do you presume to replace yr. own judgment such as it is with theirs??
“The world grows & improves” Do you really believe this? If so, you’re completely ignorant of human history. The world doesn’t grow & improve. The world goes on & some of what happens is good & some bad. If we willingly gave up our architectural/cultural heritage to the wrecking ball as you urge, then we’d have no history, no memory & would be little more than people who live by and for the moment with no awareness of what’s come before them. You would seem to welcome such an impoverished existence. I would not.
Your approach seems to allow any owner to do whatever they wish to any property they own. This is how NYC lost one of its most distinguished bldgs in 1966: Pennsylvania Station. You can find the columns & other detritus fr this magnificent bldg by McKim Mead & White ignorminiously dumped in the New Jersey meadowlands. Is this the type of legacy you feel comfortable leaving to future generations???
Your comments about George Washington Smith are equally off-base. How much, if anything do you know about him? If you knew anything you’d know that he pioneered an architectural style called Spanish Colonial, one of the pre-eminent styles in California. This style is inspired by architecture of the Spanish colonial era as exemplified in Latin America. Every tourist who’s ever visited a Spanish colonial church in Mexico knows this wonderful style. And you say that Smith did not “cling to history?” How little you know. If Latin Americans had torn down their churches as readily as we tear down our architectural legacy then there would be no Spanish colonial architecture in California and Smith might’ve been a shoe salesman for all we know. But I’m overjoyed that this did not turn out to be the case.
Update !!! As of last week, Jan 14, the effort continues to prevent the wanton gratuitous demolition of this house.
A number of us have formed an ad hoc group, “Uphold our Heritage” and we are taking this to court, where CEQA – the State law – will not be dismissed as it was by the local town council in a narrow vote.
It is nothing personal, I consider Mr Jobs a visionary, brilliant beyond words, and I write this on my fourth Mac.
Thanks to Tikun Olam for mustering morality and passion over the short sighted strong arming to destroy a masterwork by an important California architect in a town threatened by contempt of history as shown by several local resident zillionaires.
Mazel tov, judging from your site you’re an enlightened opinionator,
Clotilde Luce, daughter of former owner of the house, member/President of Uphold our Heritage.
Thanks Clotilde for the update on the Jackling House. I’m so appreciative of your taking up the cause to preserve this important edifice. When Uphold Our Heritage gets a website, let me know & I’ll publish a post about it.
I was wondering if you might have any good pictures of the interior of the home? I have a few displayed here but would like to put in at least one more to convey what it looks like.
It’s a good point to add that we don’t quarrel with Steve Jobs on a global level (indeed his achievements in business/technology are impressive). But he does not reflect well on himself to take such a selfish position with regard to destroying his home.
This house is of no great design. Designed by an architect who has performed wonderful work, but as Ford produced the Edsel, we all know that all great ones have their own albatross to deal with.
Interesting how 2 of 3 major opponents are former residents. I personally would not like to know that my childhood home was being leveled for any reason- but also admit that its not mine, my attachments are sentimental/emotional based, and that no one else will really care.
I think that Jobs is doing this the wrong way. I would propose to offer the house for use as a halfway house, homeless shelter, a drug rehab, or rent it the local Hells Angels Chapter for $1 a year. I’m sending an email to suggest it to his attorney. I’m also close friends with a 27 year member of the Oakland Red & White, who will love the idea and make a nice proposition- one that I doubt the nay sayers will object to so verbally.
I am really looking forward to see what Jobs puts there- he’s been opposed to the point where it will keep him in check design-wise and he’s paying the taxes on this heap of garbage. I’m sure he’s anxious to impress us with the finale.
Would this project be so opposed- lets say if the opposers were to have their issues addressed. What if there were a 5 story building proposed to house people afflicted by a similar dysfunction as one of them has? It would possibly championed by them, rather than fought. The majority has also spoken out and said that a majority prefer demolition. It seems that the others don’t even live close by, but are nursing childhood memories- which if they are so valuable, should have kept the home. You didn’t, Daddy didn’t- perhaps gambling debts or financial mistakes were behind it- whatever the case- let it go. Its no longer yours except for your memories. Just enjoy them and drift off happily rather than torturing yourself and others- you don’t own the home, can’t change the world, and you’ll lose in spite of your efforts. Walk away and be happy that you’re alive…
I can’t for the life of me figure out what this guy’s trying to say except in broad terms: turn the home into a halfway house? Really! I’m sure the entire community would go for that. “The house is of no great design.” Jack must be an architect or historic preservationist to make such sweeping judgments. Where’d you lean about architecture, Jack? And on what basis to you make your judgment?
I’ve got to call this comment by what it is: drivel. But I don’t like to edit or censor anyone here so it stays up as is…
Everyone is able to have an opinion- as it doesn’t agree with yours, thanks for agreeing that all of us do have them. Its a big 1920’s house- its not as if it yields any drama in its design. I find it clunky and as if it were changed 5 times under its construction, which is believable, as the home is big enough to have taken several years. I did study a year of architecture, but went into another field- thanks for challenging my opinion- it is totally as an non-professional- just as the Upholders of Heritage probably are…
Turning the home into a halfway house would certainly bring outcry from the community- which has already condoned the demolition and rebuilt structure as a whole. Allowing Highway 81- aka Hells Angels MC to set up camp there, would also serve to silence you who talk without consequence. Either way, the community would rally to Jobs aid, and the tiny voices that cry in the night would go basically unheard- numbers talk, and the Upholding 3 would probably walk. You read my statement properly, but missed the point- hopefully you understand it now- if not, call it more drivel, and I’ll spell it out for you in elementary fashion.
Honestly, look at the house. Its big- but nothing special, some interesting characteristics, but the community has voted it out- does it mean that only people with taste are those who live afar and take up the cause to save it?
And being a historic preservationist requires nothing more than saying you’re one- I love all the “analysts” and “experts” and the like popping up in TV land- smallish people- never able to play a sport, or have entered a war- but all of a sudden they’re to be respected just because they say they hold this title? Please- I’d like the credentials of your worldly “preservationists” who have lived in the home they are out to preserve.
Reminds us of the MIddle East Experts- always a guy with the last name ending in berg, or vitz- who wants me to listen to his version of what will bring peace to the middle east, and to bring the Palestinian people to a point where they will behave. After all that they’ve done there to destroy lives, and now asking me to believe what they say as “analysis” or “expert opinion”. It resembles nothing more than having a murderers family sit on the jury at his trial.
The house is coming down- thats a given, and I won’t lose any sleep over it, and I hope for the mental stability of you who have taken the side of the underdog for whatever validation you seek, that you aren’t sleepless as well. We’ve killed over a half million children in Iraq, before the “war” began from denying them medicine and a decent chance to just live- surely there are other causes that mean much more than this ugly rat/termite infested home. Press Jobs to have to dig deep to assist in something worthwhile, rather than fight to demolish what he has the rights to demolish- I trust his plan of a smaller home will be spectacular- especially after he’s obliged to increase the foliage and gardens on the property.
“…Middle East Experts–always a guy with the last name ending in berg, or vitz- who wants me to listen to his version of what will bring peace to the middle east, and to bring the Palestinian people to a point where they will behave. After all that they’ve done there to destroy lives, and now asking me to believe what they say as “analysis” or “expert opinion”. It resembles nothing more than having a murderers family sit on the jury at his trial.”
Ah, & you’re an anti-Semite as well. How refreshing. Go somewhere else to spout. Your comments are now banned here.
I find it extremely ironic that you are attempting to protect an old house from Steve Jobs… while giving him credit for saving Apple.
I have 5 older”Apple Macintoshes” and as far as I am concerned… the “i·ceo” has no more respect for my loyalty to the original Macintosh than he does for this old house.
It was people like me… whose original investment in Macintosh… kept Apple alive.
One old house seems inconsequential when you consider all the wonderful old Macintosh computers that will join it in the “landfill” of Steve’s visionary legacy.
Colleen: I’m sympathetic to your disdain for Jobs’ lack of appreciation for the history & legacy of his company and its products. One of my big problems with technology is that its adherents seem to worship the new and abhor the old. If you don’t show appreciation and understanding for what came before, how can you be successful in opening the eyes of the world to new developments?
Anyway, I’m not very sympathetic to your last sentence. While I too feel great fondness for the “wonderful old Macs,” there are still many of them out there and they will not fade away any time soon. Jackling House, however, is one of a kind. If it is torn down, there are no copies of it. That’s it, it’s gone. Kill a Mac, you can probably find another (sorry if that sounds heretical). Kill a George Washington Smith home & you’ll never find another quite like it.
With all due respect to its admirers, the Spanish Colonial Revival Style is in no danger of becoming extinct anytime soon. Houses of this style are as common as dirt, and poor imitatations have metastasized across the Southwest from San Diego to Miami. The Jackling house may be thoughtfully planned and perhaps well crafted (or not, I don’t know), but it should be obvious to anyone that this houses of this style–a revival at that–are a dime a dozen. They are everywhere, and I applaud Steve Jobs for taking a stand. It’s long past time to move on and inspire a new generation of architects to generate new styles of architecture.
When will we build the houses of the future? Who has the courage to face forward and imagine the possibilities? World history isn’t made by people too timid to leave the familiar behind and strike out in new directions.
My question for Mr. Jobs would be, “What are you going to replace it with?” In my “unsophisticated” part of the world, we have houses designed by architects from Frank Gehry, Arata Isozaki, Thom Mayne, Koning-Eizenberg, Wolf Prix, Bruce Goff, Richard Meier, to Moore, Ruble, Yudell, Michael Graves, Gwathmey/Siegal, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many, many other great and not so great architects. It’s wonderful, it’s really wonderful to have such diverse and exciting new architecture everywhere. It’s a sign of vitality, of enthusiasm, of energy, of wonder and awe and amazing creative inspiration.
I’m disappointed that so many preservationists and historians and cultural snobs have contempt and disdain for the great work being done by modern architects. A well-designed, beautiful, modern house would be a breath of fresh air in a stodgy, fossilized, reactionary community that seems so bent on denying Mr. Jobs the opportunity to build whatever moves his spirit and makes his heart sing. Instead of busting his chops, we should be encouraging him to design something so beautiful that it puts a lump in your throat and leaves you speechless. Great architecture can do that, but the Jackling house doesn’t come close.
Just my opinion…..
Looking Forward: My friend, you are quite misinformed. Steve Jobs has taken a stand and the court has swatted him down. He cannot tear the house down. He of course has a right to appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court where I hope the lower court ruling will be upheld.
Do you understand what “revival” means in an architectural context? It does not mean a sequel or a pale imitation. It means a style that is an homage to the remarkable Spanish architecture you can see in colonial Mexico. The house is not a “dime a dozen.” It is an architectural masterpiece. What, are you an architectural critic? You’ve perhaps visited it to render your ‘informed’ judgment?
It’s not an either/or proposition. Jobs has enough money that he can buy another piece of property and build the contemporary house of his dreams. And I’d applaud him for doing so. What he can’t do is tear down a home that the State has designated architecturally significant.
I dare you to provide proof of this statement. Show me any preservationist who’s ever shown contempt for contemporary architecture. It’s a ridiculous accusation. In fact, the great contemporary architects produce the very buildings which preservationists will be fighting to preserve in another decade or two.
And I’ve got news for you–great contemporary architects can be great preservationists because they know that they could not produce anything but for the great ones who preceeded them.
I don’t know what you’ve been reading but you’re misinformed on another point. The town of Woodside does not oppose Jobs’ demolition plan. In fact, they approved it. Only the preservationists stepping in preventing the defacement of this architectural treasure.
I do encourage him to do precisely that. Only do it legally and somewhere other than on the Jackling House site.
Thank you, but you haven’t really explained how I am “misinformed”, you only stated that I am. I do understand that the courts have ruled against Jobs and that some, opposed to tearing the house down, have rallied to preserve it. These are arguments of authority–“The law (so far) is on our side, and we will prevail.” And I believe that Jobs is respecting that and complying with the law, no? However, there also seem to be expressions of joy and relief that go beyond merely ensuring that everyone follows the rules.
But I’m not sure I really understand exactly why the building is some sort of “masterpiece”, so perhaps you could explain that, since you are better informed than I am? Large houses with wood beams, tile floors and roofs, plaster coated walls–these have been around for centuries, and will continue to be around for centuries more, so excuse me if I don’t see why they have unique historical value in this context, and why that value is automatically greater that what Mr. Jobs would replace it with. At about the same time the Jackling house was designed, other architects were exploring new territory with reinforced concrete, cantilever floors, exposed steel beams, expansive use of glass, skylights, etc. Even Maybeck used newly developed fiber-cement board in some of his signature craftsmen style buildings in the late 19th century, no? So pardon me if I don’t undertstand the building’s place in history, becasue it didn’t seem to be historic until someone decided to tear it down?
Yes, I understand precisely what a “revival” style is. It’s a style that is resurrected by architects who don’t have the imagination to create a new style of their own, or who are reacting to new styles on the horizon. They can copy a formula left by others and promote its virtues–this happens routinely throughout architectural history. And paying homage to Spanish colonists who slaughtered the natives, grabbed their land, looted their resources and forced them to change religion? Yes, let’s sing their praises, let’s pay homage to what they represent!
Creating a new style isn’t easy, and few architects can really claim to have done so. But even Maybeck used new-fangled fiber-cement board and exposed fasteners in some of his signature craftsmen style buildings in the late 19th century, no? Greene and Greene “paid homage” to craftsman of Japanese, American and English descent, but did so in ways previously not done. So pardon me if I don’t undertstand the building’s place in history or what milestones the architect achieved–or even aimed for–because they aren’t being discussed, and I don’t see them.
Yes, I did make assumptions and generalizations about the some of the people in opposed to tearing the house down. I apologize, perhaps I was wrong–and I appreciate your support of Mr. Jobs building something new and contemporary, if he so chooses. On the other hand, I have no doubt that he could comply with the law, find a new piece of property in Woodside and build something that would cause at least the same upset–due to an unconventional style–than tearing down the Jackling house (I would like to be wrong on that point also).
So perhaps his real goal is to eventually strike a deal: He pays to preserve the Jackling house, in exchange for support from legal authorities, preservationists, architectural historians, etc. to build anew in whatever style he chooses (according to zoning regulations, building codes and other ordinances, obviously). Is that a deal that friends of the Jackling house and the people of Woodside would support? Or would they back down if the building somehow turned out to be “too extreme” or “not appropriate” or something? (Note: I don’t speak for Mr. Jobs, I have no vested interest in the outcome, I have no idea what his plans are or what a new house would look like. I don’t know whether he would accept such a proposal, if offered. I’m just asking the question as food for thought….)
It seems that part of the problem with “do it legally and somewhere other than the Jackling House site”, as you suggest, is that–in increasingly many communities–design review boards have become part of the legal process, and vague stylistic guidelines are being interpreted as strict mandates. This makes the development and progress of new styles and designs–and even the revival of old ones–almost impossible, especially when an architectural context is already established. Review boards have become, literally, “fashion police” for architectural style, enforcing prevailing aesthetics and repressing precisely the kind of expression that leads to history-making designs. Hopefully that isn’t the case in Woodside–or is it? As you point out, I’m not well-informed….
As you said yourself, we’re basing our actions on the law. The law specifies criteria for determining whether a house is historically significant. Jackling House met those criteria. The Town of Woodside has regulations insisting that every effort be made to preserve existing homes, especially those historically & architecturally significant. The town then violated its own regulations by approving Jobs’ demolition request.
Many people who support Jobs’ position seem to believe that we should just set aside state & town law on this matter because we don’t like old houses or we just don’t like governments telling us what to do. That’s fine. Only once we believe we can ignore certain laws we don’t care for then other folks will say they’ll ignore a law they don’t care for. Pretty soon everybody will be doin’ it. Then where will we be? I also imagine that there is a law I detest, but which you value. You wouldn’t like it if I decided I was going to ignore the law you valued, would you?
As for the significance of the House, I’ve provided multiple links to the Jackling House site. Why don’t you spend 10-15 minutes looking through it? You will find information on that subject there I promise. There is also Patricia Gebhard’s book on George Washington Smith which I feature in another post I wrote about Jackling House. I don’t imagine it would interest you enough to buy but perhaps you can find it at a library if you want to learn more about Jackling House & its architect.
You keep wanting to make this a battle between Jackling House & whatever building Jobs would erect in its place. So when you ask how I know that the House is of more architectural value than what he’d build, I reject the premise. No one know what Jobs will build there. It could be a masterpiece & it could be absolute dreck. But neither the law nor preservationists are willing to accept Jobs’ “just trust me” position on this. Again, I say let’s preserve Jackling House AND let’s showcase modern architecture. But not at that site.
I question yr argument that Jackling House was insignificant till Steve Jobs wanted to tear it down when it all of a sudden became a “treasure.” Architectural history is full of examples of some of the world’s great buildings which fell into periods of disrepair, neglect & anonymity. But then someone realizes the treasure in their midst & a building that hitherto had been considered an eyesore becomes a jewel. Besides, I don’t know that the House was NOT appreciated as a treasure before its designation as historically significant. I’m not an architectural historian.
Your smugness & snarkiness here does nothing to strengthen your argument. If we disallowed the significance of art and culture created by nations which slaughtered people, stole land & looted resources we’d be left with little worthwhile. All colonial powers did virtually the same thing as Spain (though some like England did it w. a tad more sophistication & nuance). Does that mean that we throw out the cultural treasures that these colonial nations created? I’m making no arguement in defense of the practices of the colonial powers–quite the contrary.
Look, you’re entitled to think that Spanish revival architecture is a hack job or whatever you wish to call it. But architectural historians & critics and the National Trust disagree with you–strongly. Are you that confident that you know more than they on this subject? If so, more power to you.
But then, those who opposed the ‘unconventional style’ would have a much weaker case against him as long as he was respecting town & state guidelines. The kicker with the Jackling case is that it has historic designation. If Jobs bought a nondescript home or property without a home on it, it’d be hard to have a problem with what he built there. You might still have one, but it’d be hard to get the law on yr side.
BTW, we do agree on a few things. I adore Maybeck and Greene & Greene style. In fact, our living and dining room furniture are based on Blacker House designs. I’m also devoted to arts & crafts style.
Absolutely, yes. Uphold Our Heritage is not out to get Steve Jobs or to pursue him till he’s driven outa town. It’s sole goal is to preserve Jackling House. I’m afraid to tell you that you’re giving Steve Jobs far too much credit when you assume that he does want a deal. If that were so, UOH would be more than willing to meet him halfway. They’ve presented numerous proposals to him which he’s either rejected or refused to negotiate in good faith. Basically, he wants to win. Lots of wealthy, powerful people are like this. They resent anyone telling them they can’t do something. So they decide to teach them a lesson & fight tooth & nail for their prerogatives.
I’d be willing to negotiate with you any day over this if you could just persuade Jobs to fire his current obstreperous lawyer & hire you. He needs better PR AND legal advice on this.
Finally, I don’t think Woodside is the kind of place with “design police.” After all, the town approved Jobs’ demolition plan. And neither does UOH wish to preserve every single historic home in Woodside or create strict guidelines which would prevent development of new residential homes. It merely wants to preserve a single old home.
Thanks for taking the time to post these comments as well as the links. They were quite helpful, and I agree that my point about Spanish colonialism was off target–other more pertinent and persuasive arguments could be made. But since it’s unlikely that either of us will convince the other through a debate here, perhaps we could just agree to disagree, at least for now?
I found your suggestion that I persuade Mr. Jobs to fire counsel and hire me entertaining. I’m no lawyer, I can be very obstreperous at times, and we should all have Mr. Jobs’ PR problems. Besides, I dropped out of a prestigious West Coast college after only one class in architectural history (for one assignment, I had no clue what “the best style of architecture” was, and I felt like I was wasting my parents’ hard earned money), so why should anyone listen to anything I have to say? 🙂
By the way, do you know the status of the house of the late Jean Wirth on Summit Springs Rd.? I can think of quite a few reasons why it might be much more deserving of some sort of architectural and historic recognition than the Jackling house, at least in my world view. Has it slid down the hillside or fallen into disrepair?
And–may I respectfully suggest that you could help make a better world if you tried to make a better analogy? Instead of comparing Steve Jobs to Attila the Hun, may I recommend Miyamoto Musashi? When Musashi wasn’t distorting other folks’ brains and flattening inferior styles of fencing, he created some inspiring, pocket-sized cultural icons!
I will ask Clotilde Luce what she knows of the house you ask about.
I’m happy to agree to disagree on this one.
If you keep commenting here you’re going to challenge me to learn a whole lot more than I know about some things like…Miyamoto Musashi!
Thanks for coming!
I’ve given this more thought, and it has nothing to do with specific architectural style–it’s a first amendment issue. Jobs has enough money to preserve the house and do whatever he wants (most rich people would do this in a heartbeat) but he’s standing on principle. Why? Because it appears he has some, and I, for one, am grateful that he does.
He has a fundamental right to disagree with the folks from National Trust, Historic Heritage and every one else, and no judge can force him to agree with them by making him pay for the maintenence of someone else’s architectural speech.
The first amendment protects minority religions and allows authors to speak their mind. You may not understand this now, but ultimately it’s *your interests* he’s standing up for. Once you and Ms. Luce grasp this, you may actually thank him for what he’s doing and support him.
And if you have Steve’s number, tell him to give me a jingle! He he he….
God, you understand the Constitution & Bill of Rights so poorly! The 1st Amendment has nothing to do with the exercise of private property rights. The religious, political & media speech which it protects also has zilch to do w. Steve Jobs & what he’s going to do w. his house. There is no such thing as “architectural speech.” You’re clearly not a lawyer or terribly familiar with the law either. This is a total & stupid red herring.
Sure, Jobs can disagree with God for all I care. But the fact of the matter is that neither you nor God make the laws of the state of California. And till Jobs uses all that moolah he has to declare a new state of the union for himself, he too is bound by those laws. The judge clearly DOES value the opinions of architectural preservationists as does the CA. agency which found the house historically significant. They’re all that matters here. Oh and the State Supreme Court, which will hear any appeal Jobs might file–they matter too of course.
Why yes of course. Why didn’t I think of that?? Steve Jobs is only demolishing this historic landmark to preserve & protect our liberties. Steve Jobs–altruist. Steve Jobs–white knight for the First Amendment. You really should have a new career. Apple should hire you to create a Jobs hagiography. St. Stephen who martyred himself for architectural speech!
I’m not on first name basis with Jobs so you’ll have to look up the number yourself. But if you keep this up he just might come looking for you to spin all of his bad habits into gold (dreck).
Thank you for insulting a guest to your site who is simply trying to engage in some discourse–you’ll go far with your approach and enhance your credibility by ridiculing your visitors, I have no doubt!
Sorry for wasting your time and mine here……
It was yr ideas that distressed me and not you personally though it may’ve been hard to distinguish between the two based on what I wrote. Sentiments similar to yours have been expressed by innumerable people both here in my blog & elsewhere. That’s why I became exasperated with both yr flippant tone and wild ideas. But perhaps I overdid it in the tone I assumed in my reply. But do you mean to tell me you weren’t trying to be just a little bit provocative toward me in your own comment??
Seems like I can talk till I’m blue in the face about the critical nature of preseving architectural legacy and history & some folks just don’t buy it & don’t get it. Yet if Steve Jobs were to seek to burn books or demolish a museum, most people would understand that these objects and institutions are too valuable to society to allow a philistine to tear them down based on his own personal whim. But that’s not the case with architectural legacy. I guess preservationists have a long way to go in educating the public about the value of their endeavor.
Thanks for the conciliatory words and the reminder that this isn’t personal–that’s helpful.
I read Judge Weiner’s opinion today and I was shocked by the arguments that weren’t made. Of course architecture is speech. Every first semester architecture student and tourist who’s ever been to Monticello knows this! No, speech isn’t a land use issue. That’s the whole point, and why the ordinance is so screwed up, and why people all over the country fight about this stuff. Style is speech, and you can’t dictate personal speech–that’s a job for dictators.
It’s worth pointing out that the house isn’t only on privately owned residential property–it’s for personal, non-commercial use also.
And education is a two-way street.
I’m glad my explanation about why I got so exasperated earlier made some sense to you.
I’m still not getting this. I’ve read a lot about politics, constitutitonal issues & architecture criticism, but I’ve never ever heard architecture called “speech.” I can see that architecture is an artistic expression. But “speech” in a constitutional sense? I just don’t get it.
UPDATE: After a google search, I do find some references to this concept. But the only semi-relevant one is to a law review article which speaks to houses of worship which seek exemption from historic preservation ordinances under the free exercise of religion clause in the Constitution. I don’t see how Steve Jobs gets to claim he’s exercising a religious principle in destroying his house. But if you’ve got a better source to explain this I’d be willing to read it.
Thanks for the update and reference to the law review article. I just started reading it, but I see some critical differences between this case and either Employment Division v. Smith or Penn Central v. New York. But even the title references “Sacred Trust”, establishing that the preservation movement is akin to a religious crusade. To the extent that it’s government mandated, it’s a government established religion that we are required to accept.
In Employment Division, the “religious belief” consisted of ingesting drugs, not simply in holding a belief that peyote is beneficial. The essence of the establishment clause is first on belief itself, and secondly upon exercise of belief. The “neutral holding” argument can’t be used everywhere, because if it violates others’ rights to speech or belief itself, it isn’t neutral. And there is a world of difference between exercising one’s religion by taking drugs and exercising one’s religion by putting a Star of David on the front of one’s building, no? Taking drugs isn’t protected by the constitution; expression is.
Money is also speech, as proven in campaign finance and election law cases. In religion/preservation cases, economics are argued as economic injustices, not as forced speech. Can I be forced by law to give money to your church? No way, no matter how rich I am, or how “feasible” it is. Your church may get a tax break, but taxes aren’t a form of speech, and everyone pays them.
In any case Employment Division is DOA as a reliable case.
In Penn Central, the plaintiffs didn’t even make a speech argument. The outcome would probably have been the same, because the property was for commercial use, and it was eventually shown that the owners could still make money from the property, if I’m not mistaken, and that’s the basis of the feasibility test. A commercial speech argument would have gone nowhere, due to the commerce clause. The Jobs’ house isn’t being used for commercial purposes.
The judges made some serious mistakes in Penn Central, however, and show that even Supreme Court Justices require some education about architecture. Preservation of historic structures absolutely does not “enhance the quality of life for all citizens”, and can easily be proven to be untrue. For example, would preserving a historic building built in the “Tin Shack with No Heat or Electricity and Sewage in the Street” style enhance the quality of life for everyone, as Justice Brennan wrote for the Court? Obviously, they were clueless and speaking on subjects on which they are unqualified to determine. The observation that “government regulation to preserve the character of a community and desirable aesthetic features was a valid exercise of police powers” is a real problem. Can the police really prevent people from painting their houses yellow or purple or pink? No, they can’t (at least without deed restrictions), because aesthetic features are elements of speech. If the Supreme Court doesn’t like what other cultures have to contribute to the melting pot, and are too lazy or ignorant or arrogant to learn what architecture is, they are free to resign and go live some in a culture where purity is the law. This decision is very, very poorly thought through, and can easily be argued against.
I also value lessons from history, and one lesson is being able to recognize when your own country starts to resemble a historically totalitarian state, and make a decision as to which side you’re on and what you’re going to do about it. For example, the Bauhaus was run out of prewar Germany (partly) on arguments of historic preservation of traditional German architecture; aesthetics became part of the state police powers. In prewar Japan, Japanese were forced to accept Shinto talismans–traditional artifacts of historical signification–into their houses as a precursor to acceptance of the Emperor as a living deity. Obviously, we’re a long way from either of those states, but if we’re unwilling to learn from those lessons of history, then what value does any history hold? Sorry, I think the larger issues are more important than one Spanish Mexican Mediterranean Mish-Mosh Style McMansion. I built a crazy looking house for myself, and I don’t wan’t anyone telling me what my own house has to look like!
Thanks again for the article; it’s well referenced, too!
See also http://www.xerias.com/Think/Architecture_is_Speech.html
I have noticed that just about everyone I have ever met, heard or read has had/has an opinion. That includes Jobs, you, me, and just about everyone else.
And almost always the opinion was that someone else is wrong.
If anyone wants to work on making the world a better place, they might begin by working on that.
Of course right.
A foolish argument. Of course it can be easily proven that historic preservation “enhances the quality of life for citizens.” Your example is patently ridiculous. Tin shacks such as you or Brennan describe are highly unlikely to be labeled as historic or worthy of preservation. These determinations are not made artificially or superfically. They are based on historical, cultural & architectural considerations. You seem to believe that yr private property rights trump such considerations. Thankfully, many jurisdictions do not agree with yr selfish & narrow interpretation of these matters.
I’d say you value lessons fr. history that support yr particular radical libertarian views of private property. You certainly do not value lessons fr. history that contradict those views. And to imply that historic preservation ordinances “resemble a historically totalitarian state” is preposterous on its face. You’re merely a libertarian who doesn’t believe government has any right to tread on yr private property or “rights.”
What utter historical confusion. The Bauhaus aesthetics most certainly did NOT “become part of state police powers.” Bauhaus artists were decidedly anti-totalitarian.
Likewise the notion that traditional artifacts somehow lead the way to totalitarian excess is utterly preposterous.
I am so glad that the laws of the State of California disagree with both yr aesthetic judgment and historical-architectural sense.
Perhaps you should read my post again. I wasn’t arguing that the Bauhaus became part of police state powers – just the opposite. I may be mistaken, but it is my understanding that the German government opposed the Bauhaus aesthetics. The government wanted to preserve traditional German styles and culture, and used police powers to regulate aesthetics? They ran those Bauhaus folks out of Germany, right? Your argument seems to favor goverment regulation of aesthetics, in similar fashion, am I not mistaken?
No one should have the right to tell me what music I have to buy, what type of art I have to have in my home, what books of poetry I must buy to put on my bookshelf, what kind of dancing I may or may not perform, what style of clothes I may or may not wear. But you seem to be glad that we now have a government that can dictate the aesthetics of our own homes and a legal system that allows people to impose styles upon their neighbors.
The government does not make journalists, musicians, poets or filmmakers submit their work for pre-publication censorship or approval. Why should anyone have to justify or defend the style of their own house to anyone else?
In the 1980’s, in Beverly Hills, some people didn’t like the way a neighbor had decorated his house, so they burned it down, and people cheered. No one was ever arrested. Some people find this funny, but I think it is very, very sad.
Is that what you mean by making a better world? By supporting governments that dictate personal aesthetics?
Even now that I understand your point, it’s still preposterous. The historic preservation movement is akin to Nazi aesthetics? Puh-leeze! Historic preservation merely wishes to preserve valued architectural styles that already exist. It doesn’t want to impose any particular architectural standards or aesthetics in terms of new construction. Developers can build whatever & wherever they want as long as they adhere to law and zoning ordinances. No one’s stopping Jobs fr. building whatever piece of crap mansion he wishes on an empty site or on a site containing an existing structure which is not historically significant.
I know this offends yr radical libertarian philosophy. But don’t expect any sympathy fr. me.
Again you’re off the mark & the analogy is wholly w/o merit. Simply put, if you own this particular house & the land on which it sits, you’ll have to either preserve it or negotiate with preservationists to move it to a suitable location where its integrity will be preserved. Beyond this, I’m simply uninterested in yr irrelevant analogies & libertarian ideology.
98% of Californians are willing to accept this minimal restriction on their property rights in order to preserve the state’s architectural heritage. If you don’t like the law get yourself elected to the CA. state legislature, where you can try to persuade yr fellow legislators to change them. I’m sure selfish billionaires like Steve Jobs and David Geffen would richly fund yr campaign. But do let me know so I can make a contribution to your opponent.
…Even now that I understand your point, it’s still preposterous. The historic preservation movement is akin to Nazi aesthetics? Puh-leeze!…
When a govenment wants to regulate aesthetics, I think it’s worth paying attention and waking up, because there is something wrong. And yes, when governments force us to believe what they want us to believe – for no other reason than to prove that they can – the government is oppressive. It may sell newspapers and books, but “…historic and cultural preservation..” is not, itself, a persuasive argument to me. The South argued that elimination of slavery would change their way of life and would adversely affect their rich heritage and culture. You know what? They were absolutely right! The South has not been the same since slavery was abolished, but that does not mean that slavery is justified on grounds of historic, cultural, economic or aesthetic preservation.
Up until 1950, it was perfectly legal to enforce property covenants that prevented minorities from buying property in certain neighborhoods. These covenenants were upheld on economic grounds for almost a century after slavery was abolished, because they preserved property values. And you know what? The covenants did preserve property values! When minorities moved into all-white neighborhoods, property values plummeted. But arguments in support of preserving neighborhood culture (white) and preservation of neighborhood economic interests (real estate values) do not override individual rights, personal freedoms, and personal liberties. Eventually, these laws were overturned, but it took a very, very long time, and there was a lot of opposition.
…Historic preservation merely wishes to preserve valued architectural styles that already exist….
Valued by whom? The state of California has not offered to pay to have the house moved. To date, no one has offered to pay for the building’s removal and restoration, I understand. The style may be valued, but the style can be preserved through drawings, photographs and individual artifacts, and this is borne out by the style’s enormous popularity – realtors in California love it! It’s everywhere! Lots of people are willing and eager to have houses designed and built in this style, but that is their personal choice. That choice is not being made for them by people who are on religious missions, usually.
Tearing this building down will not destroy its style, and I believe that expert architectural historians would agree.
What this looks to be about is a small group of people that is demanding to be paid off – it walks and talks like extortion, plain and simple. They want to prove that they are in control and that they can force even wealthy and powerful people to yield to their demands, right? That’s what this is about – it’s a shakedown.
…It doesn’t want to impose any particular architectural standards or aesthetics in terms of new construction…
Are you an architect? Have you consulted with any architects, have you read the legal case, have you familiarized yourself with Woodside’s building ordinances, or any other building town’s ordinances, for that matter? All across the country, property owners are faced with aesthetic restrictions when building. Many, many, many ordinances make aesthetic demands on property owners who want to build. Height limits are the most obvious, but there are plenty of others that regulate materials, colors, projections, roof slopes, visibility of garage doors, yard sizes, etc. – you name it. Your statement is not true and not credible.
I believe that the reasons these aesthetic ordinances exist is simply because they have not been opposed for the right reasons.
….I know this offends yr radical libertarian philosophy. But don’t expect any sympathy fr. me….
I don’t expect sympathy. At this point, the only thing I expect from you is religious intransigence. My philosophy is not “radical libertarian” – it’s Jeffersonian. Jefferson was this country’s first architect and he built and rebuilt for personal pleasure, not for money, not to keep his neighbors happy and not to preserve the then-popular English Colonial style, which he detested. I think the courts would listen to a Jeffersonian argument or two, but I don’t think they have ever been presented, at least from the research I have done.
…Again you’re off the mark & the analogy is wholly w/o merit. Simply put, if you own this particular house & the land on which it sits, you’ll have to either preserve it or negotiate with preservationists to move it to a suitable location where its integrity will be preserved….
The analogy and references to music, literature and poetry are dead on the mark. The Jackling house is claimed to be some sort of artistic masterpiece, and references to art, aesthetics, and the First Amendment are right on the money. The fact that you don’t understand the analogies is another story. Recently, I spoke to a very experienced attorney who was running for office as a municipal judge, and I asked him what he thought about government regulation of aesthetics. He didn’t have a clue – none whatsoever. He wasn’t dumb, he’d just never thought about it, because he only forms opinions on arguments presented in court.
“You’ll have to either…” is not a reasonable argument, it’s an statement of authority and power. “We own this neighborhood, so pay up.” It may be true right now, but it’s not persuasive.
Would you agree with a law that requires you pay to support the KKK or the campaign of David Duke? How about George Bush? Barack Obama? The fact is, is doesn’t matter how popular or loved the candidate is. The reason you can’t be forced to pay, no matter how rich you are, is because MONEY IS A FORM OF SPEECH and the First Amendment specifically protects speech. You can not be made to say things that you don’t agree with or support ideological causes that you don’t believe in. Do you understand that? Or not?
Historic preservation is an ideological issue, and it has no constitutional basis, just as aesthetics have no right answers. The town of Woodside (actually, the State of California) requires property owners to:
1.) Pay money. Individually. Not as taxpayers contributing to a government-funded or publicly sponsored program, or as commercial entities contributing to civic programs as a cost of doing business. They have to pay *personally*, as individuals, for things that other individuals do not.
2.) Pay money to an ideological “cause” of historic preservation as determined by narrow special interest groups. To preserve aesthetics that the property owner finds personally distasteful. And for which the historic preservationists can demand payment as consultants.
There is no constitutional amendment upholding the authority of government to demand aesthetic obeisance and subserviance to self-appointed, ad-hoc historic preservation groups. There is one that guarantees free speech, however, and I support that one, don’t you?
The courts have upheld historic preservation (and the issue is not about historic preservation, really it’s about control) on economic grounds – that historic preservation is an economic issue. But economic issues still do not prevail over freedom of thought and freedom of speech, especially at the personal, non-commercial level. Aesthetics are expressive qualities and are therefore aspects of speech. As a constitutional matter, what else can they be?
If aesthetic preservation is an economic issue, and because governments can pass laws to regulate local economics, then municipalities could enact ordinances requiring everyone to wear, say, black suits, white shirts and black hats, to wear white skin and to drive white cars, right? What would prevent that? Seriously, if a municipality passed those laws, what argument would you offer against them? Some “radical libertarian” nonsense?
…98% of Californians are willing to accept this minimal restriction on their property rights in order to preserve the state’s architectural heritage….
I’m not sure where you got that statistic, but my guess is that, in similar circumstances, 98% of Californians would agree with Steve Jobs. When it’s your property, it’s not a minimal restriction, it’s a big deal. Attend any local City Council meeting where citizens have their property evaluated by some Board of Do-Gooders. NO ONE wants to have their property deemed to be “historically significant”, because the property often *decreases* in value. The property owners get their hands tied and they have to negotiate with some historic preservationists about what they can and can not do, based on how much money they have available to spend. Sure, they like historic preservation as long as they don’t have to pay for it, and I think you fit in that category, no?
…I’m sure selfish billionaires like Steve Jobs and David Geffen would richly fund yr campaign. But do let me know so I can make a contribution to your opponent…
Reversal of these laws will not happen by people in elected office, but only in the courts. Some individual property owner will have to find to find the courage and reasons and time to argue his way through the courts, with very little help and against well funded, well entrenched opposition.
Sadly, your personal attack – and the ones in your article slandering Steve Jobs – are one of the most telling parts of your argument. You don’t seem willing to raise money to buy the house and pay for its preservation, but you are willing to spend money to elect people who want to wipe out our basic freedoms. Steve Jobs has taken a salary of $1 for the past ten years and has quadrupled (at least) the value of his shareholders stock. And he’s selfish? I read this as a sign that he holds principles that you have trouble grasping. If you want to preserve his house, why don’t you pay for it?
And who knows how much he’s already contributed to cultural or other worthwhile causes? Some donors make a big show out of their contributions, demanding that this concert hall or that theatre or some musuem be named after themsleves. They have “their architect” design the building and loan their own personal collection of paintings to hang on the wall. Those donors make sure everyone knows what wonderful humanitarians they are and what great contributuions they’ve made toward the advancement and preservation of culture.
Other donors give money quietly and anonymously. They do it secretly, privately, for reasons of their own. They support causes but want the focus to be on the cause – not the donor. Are you certain that Steve Jobs hasn’t already contributed millions to other worthwhile causes? I don’t know that he has, of course, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
You seem to like to have the last word (actually the last hundreds of words), but that won’t be the case here. I think we’ve both said everything we could possible say supporting our respective arguments. I respect yr right to hold yr well-argued (but incorrect) views. But I think it’s time to give this a rest.
When the State Court of Appeals rules in favor (at least that’s what we hope & expect to happen) of the preservationists in the next phase of the court battle I’ll post again & you can comment there if you wish.
First, historic preservation is like Nazi aesthetics & now its like slavery. You really pull out all the stops don’t you. C’mon! It’s a just plain dumb analogy. And btw, the South objected to abolition much more strenuously because it would “adversely affect” their society’s economy. Certainly abolition affected heritage & culture, but this was a secondary factor compared to the utter devastation it posed for the munificent plantation lifestyle enjoyed by the aristocratic land-owning class.
Lord, now historic preservation is akin to racist property covenants! That’s rich.
You understand incorrectly. Two potential buyers have come forward. But one wishes to move the house entirely away from Woodside. Preservationists wish to retain the home for the area in which it was built. I’m not certain what the outcome was with the other offer. Jobs is the party who must negotiate w. them and the outcome is not fully in the preservationists control, though they may have some leverage in terms of final veto power since the law has found in favor of their position that he cannot demolish the home.
This is akin to saying we can shred the original Mona Lisa but “preserve” it through photographs. That argument would go over well with the Louvre I’m sure. Or should we tear down Versailles while preserving Marie Antoinette’s bedstead to remind us of the palace’s former glory?
Actually, expert architectural historians (from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and others) universally agree with the preservationists legal efforts and have written Friend of the Court briefs supporting them. I’m not aware of a single architectural historian who’s said anything differently. Though you’re welcome to try to find one.
That is a vicious calumny. I am a founding member of Uphold Our Heritage and have been intimately involved in this entire case. I know what my motivations & UOH’s are. You are a despicable person for making such assumptions. It only proves your own paranoia & mistrust but is absolutely no reflection on the preservationist mission in this matter. If you were decent you would apologize. We’ll see how decent you are.
You are confusing BUILDING ordinances with PRESERVATION ordinances. They have nothing to do with each other. Building ordinances regulate the types of issues you raise. But they serve a wholly diff. purpose than preservation ordinances which are designed to preserve a limited number of specific historic structures.
That’s delightful. If you’re Jeffersonian, then you should be willing to place some value on Jefferson’s crowning architectural achievements–Monticello and the Univ. of Vir. campus. But if you’re true to yr libertarian principles you should allow for the fact that the current owners, should they wish, could sell these properties off & allow them to be demolished. Which is it–are you Jeffersonian or libertarian?
And for you to say that Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s first great architects, would embrace your rampant Darwinian view of private property rights is laughable.
That’s horseshit. Historic preservation is NOT an ideological issue. It is only an ideological issue for an ideologue such as yourself. Lot’s of things that are considered hard & fast law have no specific “constitutional basis.” The abolition of slavery, one man-one vote, abortion rights. All of these were inferred from constitutional principles with no clear-cut basis in the original text. That doesn’t make them any less valid. Besides historic preservation is NOT a federal issue. It is a state & local issue. And I’m relatively sure there is some basis in the CA. state constitution for historic preservation, as it is fixed law (for everyone but the likes of you).
I have no idea what you’re ‘on’ about. What “money” are you talking about? Historic preservation is only a “narrow special interest” group to radical Darwinians like you. While many Americans know little about historic preservation (hence the public apathy leading to abysmal decisions to tear down architectural jewels like the old Penn Station), the vast majority of those who do, value it very highly.
There doesn’t have to be. That’s what plain, ordinary state laws are for. There’s a state law governing historic preservation. You don’t like it–fine. You think it’s unconstitutional–fine. Please, do go ahead and start a state initiative to abolish all aspects of state law that prevent individuals fr. exercising their full powers. I’d like to see such a campaign & how much public support it would win. I’d even like to see an initiative restricted to abolishing historic preservation laws. They’d fail miserably too. Or maybe you’d like to bring a case before the State Supreme Court arguing such laws are unconstitutional? I’d like to see you do it and see how many votes you’d get. Go right ahead.
I won’t take this argument solely based on yr unsupported word. I’m certain that historic preservation has been upheld on a variety of grounds & that economics are but one of many factors supporting it.
Yes, the key phrase is “in similar circumstances.” If every Californian was worth $10 billion, then there might be no support, or very little support for historic preservation (then again there might be a great deal of support for it as long as you weren’t the person who wanted to destroy your historic home). Economic self-interest tends to distort people’s values when they’re god-awful wealthy. Luckily, the Jobs and Geffens of CA. constitute a very small percentage of the population. The rest of us plebes (I don’t live in CA. but did for 17 years) have more normative values–historic preservation being but one of them.
And that’s precisely why we have laws that govern all of us. That’s why we don’t allow the wealthy to buy the laws or shape them to their advantage. Laws made to benefit the few are bad laws. Sure David Geffen hated allowing a walkway on his property for public beach access. It was a big deal for him. But thankfully, the interests of the broader public subsumed his individual interest. Geffen argued the case for years & finally lost. The same holds true for Jobs.
A wholly wrong & ignorant claim. Thousands of properties, including private homes are deemed historic landmarks every year with their owners full approval.
As I wrote above, Geffen tried & failed to do precisely that. Jobs is now trying to appeal his way through the state legal system. Hopefully, he’ll fail as well. We’ll see.
I guess Thomas Jefferson would be a sycophant for American corporatism too, at least by yr twisted notions. Steve Jobs has taken $1 in salary for 10 yrs. So what? What’s that supposed to mean? That he’s doing it for charity? I don’t have any problem with Steve Jobs running a successful company and making himself and his employees rich. But the way he runs his personal life is entirely separate fr. the way he runs his business life. And the rules governing both are different as well. If he doesn’t like the rules as they affect his disposition of Jackling House he has many alternatives, none of which (except demolition) he’s chosen to avail himself of.
Oh no, I have no trouble grasping Jobs’ values. They’re values of selfishness, boorishness, self-importance, & self-grandiosity, & a willingness to thumb his nose at established law that contravenes his own personal interest. I understand his values completely. I reject them & in this particular case, so does the State of California.
I have not examined Steve Jobs personal philanthropy. But I am a professional non-profit fundraiser and study such matters in general terms for a living. I’m aware of many, many wealthy individuals who’ve given much more significantly to charity than Steve Jobs. If you want to claim him as a philanthropic angel I’m afraid you’ll have to do better than to presume he’s generous w/o providing any proof. And even if he is generous, it has nothing to do w. this particular matter.
One last question and I’ll give it a rest….
Do you know the cutoff date for the appeal (if there is one)?
Thanks for the discussion!
The Court of Appeal hearing was December 20th. A ruling is expected within a month or possibly less.
You know, I actually thought Jobs might be in the wrong until I read your blog post today. Through your holier-than-thou attitude and unwillingness to even consider his side of the story, I’ve gained sympathy for his point of view, and a new “appreciation” for the “winning, even at the cost of fairness and honesty” strategy that people such as yourself often employ.
Certain commenters here who have long made up their minds on an issue come here & blame me & something I write for “changing their minds,” as if their minds weren’t made up to begin with. This commenter is a perfect example. Besides, don’t believe or disbelieve me. There’s now a legal record. Two levels of judicial review have determined him to be in the wrong.
It doesn’t really matter what you or I say. Judges determine the law & he’s broken it. Plain & simple.
Then I guess yr snarkier than thou attitude is an attempt to repay me? I’ve been following this story for well over a yr. YOu think I haven’t heard & read Jobs’ “side of the story??” I know what his side is. It’s pathetic & that’s been proven as I said by a Superior Court judge and three Appeals Court judges in a unanimous ruling.
Well lets look about the facts here, this is a house, in a neighborhood 99.999999999999~% of you dont live in, wont drive by, wont ever set foot into. Yet here we reading an article about preserving it like something important happened here. Im sorry the declaration of independence was not written here, nor any other significant event that requires we maintain the house for all eternity.
How long will this house need to be preserved? 100 years? 1000 years? 10,000 years? get real. The fact that these preservation efforts to keep a house that lets face it, does not affect ANY of your daily lives whether its in existence or not is treated like its incredibly important is ridiculous.
Anyone who is in this historical preservation society is flat out ridiculous.
I think everyone needs to step back, stop being sentimentalist freaks and realize that frankly its not their business.
@ruserious: In that case, why don’t we also destroy the Mona Lisa or Versailles or the Amazon rainforest for that matter. After all, how much tangible direct impact do they have on any of our lives?
My brother and I purchased a home in Portwashington NY 11050 together.
Close to two year later the village landmarked it.
We were devestated. It cost us a fortune to fight it, and we were not successfull. We were looking for alternative solutions that will come to a sound solution between us and the the landmark commission. It led to no where and the struggle went on for 5 years and put us in debt and our ailing aging parent in further illness. The compounding factor of the financial crisis with realestate value further downturn led us now to consider foreclosure. Basically, the village cornered us into banckrupcy and we can not do anything about it, as everything with the law is an “uphill battle” Our rights were totally robbed from us, and we were not even looking to demolish the property. if you have any way of helping us we are in extreme difficulty: write to my email at aol dot com — I hope someone reading this can help, I am calling out to the angels as a last resort. The saint that I pray to every day crashed to the ground today and lost a head without a reason, and for sure, I think this was the saint’s answer to my prayers.