Architecture preservationists have lost a major battle to save an important part of California’s historic legacy. Steve Jobs, owner of Woodside’s Jackling House, built at the turn of the century by George Washington Smith (who designed many of the distinctive buildings of Santa Barbara and was a champion of the Spanish revival style), has won a long legal battle to demolish the home. He will begin doing so next week.
Uphold Our Heritage, the preservation group founded to save the distinctive home, and which battled with Jobs for years, lost its last legal battle in 2010. They had been joined in the campaign by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Apparently, Steve Jobs’ Apple leave of absence has given him time to focus the important things in life, like obliterating this piece of California architectural history.
As the Apple founder faces what appears to be terminal cancer, one has to wonder whether this is the legacy he wishes to give the world: that of a stubborn, willful, always victorious man who will stick his finger in the eye of his opponents if given half a chance. Destroying Jackling House is an act of vandalism that impoverishes the state. The day of Jackling House’s destruction is a day that will live in infamy and will tarnish this man’s reputation and follow him wherever he goes.
In 1966, developers tore down New York’s gorgeous old Pennsylvania Station and dumped its magnificent statues of ‘Day’ and ‘Night’ in a Jersey Meadowlands dump where activists, who came to be known as historic preservationists, discovered them moldering in the swamp. Images of these relics spurred the anger that led to the founding of the architectural preservation movement. I shudder to think where the pieces of Jackling House will end up. Jobs can’t dump them in San Francisco Bay as there are now environmental laws prohibiting it. No doubt, the pieces will be ground up to a pulp or powder so as to leave no traces to attest to Jobs’s vandalism.