Tech Check

The De-Construction of Steve Jobs' Mansion


It's been a contentious issue for Steve Jobs for a long, long time.

But after a vote last nightby the city council in tony Woodside, California, this ridiculous headache might finally be subsiding for Apple's CEO .

I say ridiculous because if you've been in the Silicon Valley as long as I have, you've watched from the sidelines how ludicrous local politics can be, and how busy-body activists can mess with a guy's home, which last I checked, was supposed to be his castle in this country.

Steve Jobs' house

A little background:

Steve Jobs bought the 14-bedroom, 17,000 square foot, Spanish colonial, 6-acre estate in 1984, built in 1925 by George Washington Smith for copper mining magnate Daniel Jackling.

Those were heady days for Jobs, then a 30-year old wunderkind, getting the first Apple Mac out the door, heralded by the iconic Super Bowl ad. Jobs lived in the so-called Jackling House for a decade, before deciding it was an "abomination," moving to his current home near downtown Palo Alto.

He loved the Woodside land, just not the house, and five years ago, offered to give the house away for free to anyone who would move it.

Move, as opposed to "raze," since preservationists had stepped in, proclaiming the structure "historic," pronouncing it a critical example of Spanish Colonial Revival design.

Let the public debate begin.

As if Jobs didn't have enough to worry about, running a multi-billion dollar operation with tens of thousands of employees. Oh, there was that health issue, too.

Steve Jobs

Yet, the debate dragged on, and on, and on. Legal filings. Arguments. More debate. Oh, and it's not as if Jobs wanted to simply destroy one mansion to build an even bigger mega mansion. Nope.

He wants to replace the Jackling home with a decidedly understated 6,000 square foot home instead.

All of this came to a head this week with thetown council approving, by a 6-1 vote a plan to deconstruct the current home (which activists claimed Jobs was destroying anyway by what they called "demolition by neglect). Silicon Valley venture capitalist Gordon Smythe, who founded Propel Partners, has stepped in as Jobs' white knight, taking possession of the home's pieces and who will be given five years to find a piece of property to rebuild it. For his part, Jobs will spend about $605,000 for the "de-construction."

Smythe tells our local paper, the San Jose Mercury News, that he'll preserve the original 10,000 square feet of the home with Woodside getting dibs on the pieces of the home he doesn't use.

But wait, this isn't quite over yet: A Superior Court judge has given "Uphold Our Heritage" a few weeks to fight the dismantling agreement.

I get the whole preservation thing, but when he bought the home it wasn't "historical" then. It's arguably (obviously) not really all that historical now. It might even be more "historical" because of its connection to Jobs personally. The "abomination" has been how long this has been dragged through the process. Such a waste of time. Let him build. Leave him alone. The new Jobs' home will be comfy, cozy, and "historical" for a new generation.

Questions?  Comments?