Steve Jobs has earned another distinction in his long career of technological innovation: destroyer of architectural history. He tore down Jackling House, one of the finest examples of Spanish revival home architecture in northern California and he did it in a mere two weeks. The home was designed by famed California archiect, George Washington Smith, creator of the Spanish Revival style for which Santa Baraba is known. It was built for copper magnate Daniel Jackling, another ruthless capitalist innovator of his day.
Uphold Our Heritage fought valiantly to preserve Jackling House. But in the end the Town of Woodside did everything possible to accomodate Jobs and destruction of the architectural treasure; while the California Supreme Court refused to acknowledge this was an important enough part of the state’s historic legacy to be worth preserving. The Town’s callousness is epitomized by this statement to the San Jose Mercury News from the Manager:
Town Manager George said the demolition of the Jackling House will “close 11 years of history” for the town.
“No matter what you think about the house, it’s nice to get something wrapped up,” she said.
“Smashed up” would be more like it.
As he almost always does, Steve Jobs has won. He fought a long bloody legal war to demolish Jackling House. Now he has his Pyrrhic victory. All that stands now on the property is the chimney, the remains of a 15,000 square foot stately mansion.
Jobs promised us an even more significant architectural statement for the building that will replace it. But the glaring error in his thinking is that you don’t create architectural distinction by demolishing the history that preceded you. You build on the past, not destroy it.
If anyone can snap a picture of the ruins I’d very much like to display it here. But I understand heavy security rings the property. Steve doesn’t want any pictures of the ruins to mar his reputation any further than it has been. And he clearly thinks we preservationists are as possessed as he is and that we’ll physically protest and disrupt his act of vandlism. We’ve protested all we could. Now Steve has spoken. All hail Steve, destroyer of worlds, like Shiva. I don’t know whether karma exists. But if it does Steve’s earned a whole lotta bad karma. I pity him.
Rest in peace, Jackling House. As for Jobs, not so much.