I opened my mailbox yesterday afternoon and found a crisp new copy of my favorite magazine, This Old House. One of my favorite features in the magazine is found just inside the back cover — Save This Old House. Featured there is an old and usually historic house that is in need of rescuing; I’ll go there first because the article is a quick read and I really enjoy older architecture. This time I was surprised to see that it was Steve Jobs’ Woodside, CA, Spanish Colonial mansion being featured.
There is of course a catch; if you want it you’ve got to move it to a new location. All 17,000 square feet. All 14 bedrooms and 13 1/2 bathrooms. Holy cow!
The place was purchased by Jobs in 1984 (he was only 29 years old!) but in recent years he’s pretty much abandoned it. Right now it is a bit rundown, and it isn’t getting any better. It’s missing several doors and windows, and has suffered from exposure to the elements and vandalism. Jobs would like to raze the place to make room for something more modern, and says that he has always planned to do that, but according to an article in the SFGate local historians are objecting loudly.
Historians say the house qualifies for the California Register of Historic Resources and therefore merits protection under the state’s Environmental Quality Act.
“It’s a significant house, and it can continue to serve the community,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “It’s symptomatic of a discard society. He ought to buy another lot.”
I would tend to agree. Jobs is being incredibly difficult, which is no surprise. He obviously doesn’t give a hoot about the place, and he could find a suitable building site if he wanted. Moving a building that size would be a huge project, and the chances of someone taking it on and actually pulling it off are very slim. It certainly wouldn’t hurt a guy like Jobs to just deed it over to the city or someone interested in restoring it.
But I don’t know if I’d be interested; I think I’ll keep watching TOH for a house that needs rescuing closer to home.