Steve Jobs died too soon to fulfill his plans to return to Woodside

He wanted to move with his family to a new home on Mountain Home Road

Click on photo to enlarge and see caption.

By Dave Boyce

Almanac Staff Writer

"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," reads the Book of Common Prayer in reflecting on the end of a life.

And so it is for Steven P. Jobs, the visionary and longtime chief executive of Apple Computer who lived in Woodside in the 1980s and who died at the age of 56 in his Palo Alto home on Oct. 5, 2011.

And so it was in February 2011 for his rambling mansion on Mountain Home Road. Mr. Jobs had plans to return with his family to his old Woodside address, but only after tearing down the Spanish Colonial-style house on the site and replacing it with a modern home.

A billionaire several times over in a town familiar with the ways of powerful people, it still took Mr. Jobs 10 years to complete that first step. He never got around to the second one.

Slowing him down were fans of the mansion's architect, George Washington Smith, and preservationists who blocked Mr. Jobs repeatedly in their efforts to keep hope alive and save the mansion, in Woodside or wherever, in whole or in part.

After the successive fizzling of proposals that would have moved the house or large pieces of it, Mr. Jobs won a judgment for a demolition permit in March 2010, but it would be another year before he could act on it. By the time he did, the town had salvaged certain meaningful elements of the house before it was reduced to splinters.

The town has not received any development plans since the house was demolished, Planning Director Jackie Young told the Almanac.

Among the mansion's historically significant parts, some of which are on display now in the Woodside Community Museum, are a living room chandelier, banisters from a set of stairs, wall tiles and a servant's call box.

The exhibit "Days of Grandeur: The Jacklings and their Woodside Estate," is open on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. at the museum at 2961 Woodside Road.

The town's collection also includes a 50-foot flagpole, a copper mailbox, roof tiles, an organ, woodwork, fireplace mantles, many light fixtures and moldings.

A personal appearance

Mr. Jobs, who lived in Palo Alto during the deliberations and who usually communicated on the Jackling house through his attorneys, visited the Woodside Town Council in December 2004 and informed his opponents that he was prepared to be patient in carrying out his plans.

He said at the meeting that if he did not get the demolition permit at that time, he would simply wait and try again, which he did.

"Are you trying to wear us down?" Councilwoman Carroll Ann Hodges asked him at the time.

"I think the elements will wear the house down," Mr. Jobs replied.

The house, which had sunk into a decrepit state, was an "abomination," said Mr. Jobs, who went on to question the historical importance of both Mr. Jackling and the architect, Mr. Smith.

(In comments after Mr. Jobs' death, people who knew him say he had few compunctions about allowing objects or reputations whose moments had passed to fade away as part of the natural order of things.)

The town's History Committee in 2001 had reported finding doors wrenched off door frames, windows missing, and outside varieties of plants growing inside the house. At the time, Mr. Jobs said he did not know why the openings had not been boarded over.

Former Jackling house focus of exhibit.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2011 at 8:33 am

Talk about "gilding the lily"............Jobs had the wives and all those people who disliked Steve and his "hippy" Buddhist peaceful approach to the angry people who kept him from building the house he had planned to the last component and in which he had hope to spend his last days.
The "flower print dressed" (as I refer to the council women and members of the Historical Society)irritants who kept his dream house being built was the only way to show disdain for a true gentleman like Mr. Jobs was.
The fact that they are now exhibiting brass fixtures and chandeliers which were to be part of the removal is just ludicrous.
Mr. Jobs was quoted as gently responding "that the elements would wear the house down"(sic)
The real truth about the hype about the book "DAYS OF GRANDEUR:THE JACKLINGS and their Woodside Estate" is a world of misinformation which can be disproved by reading about the life of George Washington Smith, the architect whose Jackling house was considered one of his "poorest efforts architectually" while the true mansions he designed are in Montecito and Santa Barbara and make this Jackling failure look like a motor home.What an injustice to Mr.Jobs who DID live in the broken down part of the house some times during his illness and operations for the pancreatic cancer.
Steve had a rarely discussed explosive temper which terrified people when he vocalized his distates, but he had not the time, butdid have the MONEY to keep people like Councilwoman Carol Ann Hodges at bay....not just her but her cronies as well.
When you look up Smith and his contributions to the Bay Area, there are some very funny and satirical blogs to be found about G.W.Smith and the Jackling house when discussing GRANDEUR.
The word "class" is a no no when discussing people who are endowed with style and natural good taste which is achieved through manners and sometimes big money and philanthropy. It does not come to those who are "noveau" and can be inspirational as was Molly Brown.
There are no Molly Browns OR titled people who care about the average citizens who make up our country who make up our Mid-Coast populus.Mr. Jackling's wealth came from copper and just like most of the real fortunes of American Leaders, came from common folk whose parents were immigrants.If profits are to be made from the sale of Mr. Jobs' unwanted house, it should go to the county and its needs; not to exploit the name of Mr.Jobs.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I hate to admit it, but there are some strange shreds of truth in R. Gordon's comments. I'm not sure about the historical proponents motives, but they can be quite doctrinaire.

However, with regard to R. Gordon's comment regarding any profits from the sale of Mr. Jobs' unwanted house, they should go to Mr. Jobs estate, of course.

He paid for it and he owned it.

Like this comment
Posted by Jackal
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm

But what's weird is acting like Jobs was such a gentleman, when he was known publicly as a berater and a bully. Seems to me that this conflict was deserved on both sides - although ultimately, I'm glad he won. They were way off in their adoration of the Jackling house.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Yes, Jobs was no saint but I would have reacted the same way. It's his home, not yours, and he should be able to do what he wants with it. He wasn't asking for special treatment and he was doing following every rule. The priorities of the Save our Heritage people were badly misplaced.

Beyond that, the Jackling home was a pretty pedestrian example of Smith and it was clearly in horrible condition. A homeowner is under no obligation to fix it up, either and that was the point Mr. Jobs was echoing.

Some preservationists advocate that any home older than 50 years should be subject to a historical review and possible preservation.

Was your home built in 1961 or older? You may be next.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jun 4, 2017 at 9:10 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Couple brings Chinese zongzi to Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 5,702 views

Summer Cooking Classes - Free!
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,591 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 6 comments | 1,254 views

More Bad News: Downtown Parking Will Get Much Worse
By Dana Hendrickson | 11 comments | 1,125 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 988 views


Register today!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More