The Woodside Controversy

By on September 20, 2004

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.

Woodside, California


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.

Like me?

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.



  1. he’s not being difficult. the house is a dump. nobody really give’s a shit about it. why would anyone want to preserve it is beyond me, it’s not as though it’s from an important part of history or something…it’s just designed to look like it was. if i were jobs i’d light it on fire, then raze the remains.

  2. I would give anything to have a home like that for my family, and the history alone would inspire me to do all I can do to preserve it in every way possible.

  3. hey, the guy bought the house 20 years ago under circumstances which none of you probably understand. he owns the land – the government shouldn’t be able to tell him what to do with it. the above poster is also correct – it’s a fake colonial-style house, not the real thing. sprawling subdivisions today are full of vinyl-sided Colonial Revivals with plastic shutters that don’t even reach across the windows – Steve Jobs’ house is the 1920s version of that. Spanish Colonial is from the late 1700s and 1800s – not the 1920s. so say goodbye to the fakery – hello, steel, glass, and concrete.

  4. how much do you think it would cost to relocate a house of that magnitude? i bet it would cost plenty, who is going to want to do that… free is not always a good price.

  5. steve breaks the rules sometimes. i wouldn’t be surprised if he knocked it down anyway. that would be great.

  6. Amazing that only today, I was listening to the start of “The Second Coming of Steve Jobs” book on my iPod, which was focusing on events that took place in that old house! Still, I agree with both “someguy” and Steve himself that it is most likely not worth keeping around.

    So take some nice photos, make a book, put the thing into a Virtual Reality tour or something like that in a museum, and then let the poor old thing go to dust. RIP.

  7. All Jobs has to do is put the house on EBay and auction it as a “must be moved” house and he can get some cash for it and find someone to move it. Doing that also fullfills his obligation to the A Hole preservationits who assume they own your house. If no one takes it he can demolish it in 30 days. Those preservationists have caused way more demolitions than were neccesary. Why? I move houses, very big ones, like Jobs’ thousands of miles but preservationists have caused me to lose millions and millions of dollars because they falsely claim the house has to stay in the neighborhood and has to be restored according to their rules. All Lies, by the way. Think I’m lying? Ask them where the Eno Mansion is. Diane Ross and Anthony Quinn wanted the mansion but they wanted it moved to where they had land. Ross had land in upstate NY and Quinn had land in RI but the preservationists said the house can’t be moved out of state. so after court battles, lawyers fees and waiting a year the house was demolished. I am trying my best to put preservationists out of existence.

  8. I am trying my best to put shitheads like Canavan and Jobs out of Business. God, man, learn some history. I’ll be you voted for Bush BOTH TIMES.

  9. i’ll do anything to get your house just say anything and i will do it but nothing like life dieing stunts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. I would love to have your home because I am sure that it would be very difficult for me to build a house with my age I am 54 years old and would love to have my house before I pass away I just bought land at tusan arizona however, please give me your house

  11. I am interested in this house because, I would convert it in a recovery and drug/Alcohol recovery to give back to those in need that does not have the income to be treated giving back to those in need and the community will follow your steps as a charity and rebuild their lifes to become productive in society, and make better choices, decision making as well. Being able to believe that others care and theirs hope to turn their life around in your name will allow others to believe in theirself.

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