Jackling house settles into dust and debris


The destruction of the Jackling house on Mountain Home Road in Woodside began Monday, Feb. 14, and is expected to last about two weeks, according to town officials.

The house has been essentially flattened, according to a person knowledgeable about the operation but who did not want to be quoted for the record.

With the demolition permit issued on Feb. 7, Apple Inc. chief executive Steve Jobs, who owns the house, had been expected to begin destruction this week, Town Manager Susan George told The Almanac.

It's been a long haul for Mr. Jobs, who bought the house in 1984 and has been trying since 2001 to tear the mansion down and replace it with a modern home.

Copper baron Daniel Jackling built the rambling summer home in 1926 and over the years it had acquired many historic-preservation-minded friends who appealed to Mr. Jobs with one proposal after another to save the house as an important piece of Woodside history.

The preservation group Uphold Our Heritage, in a dogged search for a savior, proposed restoring the house, moving it, and moving significant parts of it. Through his attorney Howard Ellman, Mr. Jobs would respond with offers to cooperate but agreement remained elusive.

Uphold sued Mr. Jobs and in 2004 won a ruling preventing demolition. Mr. Jobs appealed and lost, but then modified his demolition plans to address the issues noted in the 2004 decision. In March 2010, he won a judgment that cleared the way for a demolition permit.

In the end, the town salvaged several of the mansion's historically significant elements, including a 50-foot flagpole, a copper mailbox, roof tiles, an organ, woodwork, fireplace mantles, light fixtures and moldings.

The town of Woodside has the right of first refusal of these artifacts, followed by the San Mateo County Historical Association and the George Washington Smith collection at the art museum of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Mr. Smith designed the house.

The town also has an extensive photographic record of the house, as required by the conditions of the demolition permit.

Moving the house

Woodside residents Jason and Magalli Yoho offered early in 2010 to dismantle the house and move it to 215 Lindenbrook Road, a journey of about two miles.

It was "a really great proposal" in which the Yohos would have paid "a very large part of the relocation and restoration costs," Uphold attorney Douglas Carstens told The Almanac at the time.

The Yohos would have lived in the house and opened it to the public once a year, Uphold spokeswoman Clotilde Luce said in an e-mail. "Naturally," she added, she expected Mr. Jobs to "put in something" to help finance the move, but that the Yohos "were going to cover almost everything."

Had Mr. Jobs agreed to it, she said, it would have solved land-clearing problems and would have prevented adding to area landfills.

The "agreement" between the Yohos and Uphold was never formally presented to the town, Town Manager George said at the time. The proposal's "many unilateral stipulations" included having the town take financial responsibility for relocating the house should the other parties not hold up their ends -- a stipulation that likely would have doomed the proposal, Ms. George added.

Those stipulations were removed in a revised proposal, Mr. Carstens said.

"The town's involvement," Ms. George said when asked to comment, "was limited to attempting to process an application from the Yohos that would have allowed them to prepare their site for the Jackling house and (for) moving the house to the site. The application was never deemed complete and the Yohos dropped it after a point, so that was that."

The proposal might have advanced via an unsolicited offer of mediation by a program within the state appellate court in connection with Uphold's appeal of Judge Weiner's decision. The Yohos proposal could have been on the table, Mr. Carstens said. Uphold agreed to participate,

he said. Asked for a comment at the time, Mr. Jobs' attorney Howard Ellman had nothing to say.

Moving parts of the house

Gordon Smythe, a Palo Alto venture capitalist and a fan of homes designed by George Washington Smith, offered in 2009 to salvage parts of the house and use them in a new house at an undetermined site in California. That three-way agreement included the town and was contingent upon Uphold ending litigation, which did not happen in time.

Uphold attorney Carstens noted that while it was true that Uphold did not drop its litigation, neither did Mr. Jobs sign the agreement.

Mr. Carstens wondered why Mr. Jobs did not offer to consider the Yohos' proposal in lieu of Mr. Smythe's.

Commenting on the Smythe proposal to re-use parts of the house, Uphold spokeswoman Luce said: "Smith was an artist, this is a work of very sophisticated architecture. If you smash a Faberge egg and pick up some pieces, what have you 'saved'?"

In a biography on the website, Mr. Smith is cited as "one of that rare breed of architects who was able to produce buildings that were both subservient to their environment and at the same time able to project strong, beautiful forms into the landscape."

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Like this comment
Posted by William
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Finally! Maybe now our local govermnet can spend it's time on real issues.

Like this comment
Posted by Unhappy Woodside Resident
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm

What a racket this Uphold Our Heritage organization has shown itself to be. What a waste of time and money! That house was falling apart long before Steve Jobs bought it and no one can see the house from Mountain Home Road anyway. There is nothing worth saving - a 50-ft flagpole - really?! Although, the copper mailbox was pretty cool, but that could have been removed and put in the museum way back in 1984 - I'm sure Steve would have been delighted to donate it. So, as usual, the Usual Suspects make all the money out of boondoggles like this. What a shame...

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

They just started deconstructing this house? It has been well on it's way to demolition for many years...

Yes, what a waste of time, money and energy by Uphold Our Heritage. there is little doubt that Mr. Jobs' new home will be far more historic than the Jackling Estate.

Like this comment
Posted by d seiler
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

The comment that salvaging any of the house is like picking up pieces of a Faberge egg is a beautiful sound-bite, but like many analygies misses the mark.

Some salvage is always better than the land-fill both artistically and ecologically.

Like this comment
Posted by Marina
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Mr. Jobs won't build a new house on the land. The man is dying and won't get a chance to even use this land. There was no reason to tear down the house if others wanted it and were willing to relocate it.

Like this comment
Posted by None
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Press reports are saying that Jobs only has about six weeks to live.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Every city in the bay area requires at least 50% diversion of construction and demolition debris. Meaning at least 50% of the waste is recycled or salvaged.

If it is true Jobs will never get to build or enjoy his property, I think those that fought so hard to keep him from being able to use it as he saw fit should be ashamed of themselves.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Marina, a resident of Atherton stated, "There was no reason to tear down the house if others wanted it and were willing to relocate it."

Really? That's your test? If you can just find someone - anyone - who simply "wants" a structure, that means the owner can't demolish it? That's quite a standard you are setting for homeowners... I would think the OWNER might have a say. After all, they paid for it!

In this case, Mr. Jobs offered to move the property. The two other people who "wanted" the Jackling House eventually realized it wasn't practical.

I say good riddance to that eyesore and hazard to our entire neighborhood.

Like this comment
Posted by Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Feb 18, 2011 at 1:57 pm

The Uphold our Heritage people tipped their hand when they offered to take a cash settlement to go away. They should have been pressed with extortion charges. They just thought they could hold a quasi-historic house for ransom from a billionaire. I'm glad it's torn down, and I'm glad they lost. Hurray, Steve Jobs!

The Town of Woodside government in general has "trench warfare syndrome" where they're so used to being fought with that they rarely come out of their defensive posturing long enough to consider being genuine human beings and doing the right thing. There are lots of other examples of standing on a tall stack of rule books and not looking constituents in the eye. I agree with Menlo Voter: they should all be ashamed of themselves.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Why have rules on the books if you're not going to follow them?

If a rule is unjustified, it should not be a stretch to prove it.

Where's the fault here?

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Joe -

What rules are you talking about? No one is accusing Mr. Jobs of violating any laws...

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm

POGO - The comments of the person preceding me seemed to blame people for following the town's rules. All I was doing is asking the obvious questions. If I am doing anything, I calling on the critics of the town to justify their criticism, gently.

Like this comment
Posted by John from Cupertino
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Having followed this story from its inception, I think all parties involved and sideline critics may agree that if one simple action would have occurred, this story would have ended as quickly as it began. Had just one of the interested parties "put their money where their mouth was" and shown Mr. Jobs they were truly interested in moving the structure, he would have agreed and the process would have started and been completed long ago. Appears not a one of the suitors took the initative and say, deposited the needed funds into a bank account showing they were truly prepared to undertake this action. Having been born and spent several years in Santa Barbara, I am somewhat saddened the building has been demolished. I do have a strange liking/disliking of George Washington Smith designed homes. However, if you feel the need to spend some time staring at a GWS home, there are plenty of them is Santa Barbara for you to fill your need.

Like this comment
Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Not unlike the Jackling House, Morgan Manor, located in Los Altos Hills and built around 1915 was also unoccupied and in total disrepair by 1999. Subsequent new owners who were also venture capitalists purchased the property and set about on a total renovation which can be viewed online. The property, now called Stonebrook Court is an example of what is possible even in this era of tearing down historical landmarks in a rush to subdivide and build more unsightly McMansions.

I don't object to Mr. Jobs right to do what he wants with his property but it's unfortunate he could not see the greater value in saving a piece of peninsula history.

Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2011 at 5:01 am

Here is a picture of what is left.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 19, 2011 at 8:14 am

Thomas's post included this: "...tearing down historical landmarks in a rush to subdivide and build more unsightly McMansions."

First, Mr. Jobs isn't tearing down a historical landmark. It was already in near total disrepair. You can blame him for it, but provided it does not represent a hazard, there is no legal obligation to keep up your home.

Second, Mr. Jobs did not have a "rush to subdivide." In fact, his new plans are for ONE residence and it will have fewer structures than the existing property.

Finally, Mr. Jobs is hardly building a "McMansion." If I recall correctly, the Jackling home was about 17,000 square feet. Mr. Jobs wanted to build a 6,000 square foot home for his family.

I understand your post was intended to be a general commentary, but you couldn't have been more wrong about Mr. Jobs and this project.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

John from Cupertino -

I agree with you, except that what happened in Woodside is actually even worse than the suitors and preservationists not putting their money where their mouth was.

In this case, the South Florida woman behind "Uphold our Heritage" OWNED this property prior to Mr. Jobs. That means that she sold the home, made a nice profit, and then tried to restrict a subsequent owner's ability to use his property. She was trying to have it both ways - making money from the sale and then, after she got her cash, continue to control something she no longer owned.

She not only didn't PUT her money where her mouth was, she PUT money in her own wallet.

Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm

You who believe it was a mistake, now order your own resting place.
This delapidated annoying costly mess of architectual history, had the best demise it could have wished.
Now, pay attention to the privacy of Mr. Jobs, who did a remarkable thing in making this area a place you can find pride.
Also, be prepared for a huge change in leadership locally and a cut back on charter schools and jobs for excellent teachers.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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