Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Published 4:00 am, Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The wrecking ball paid a visit Monday to Steve Jobs‘ Woodside mansion, capping a protracted legal battle over the fate of the historic home.
For years, Jobs had sought to raze the Spanish Colonial Revival home and build a smaller residence on the wooded property at 460 Mountain Home Road. A preservation group had blocked his plans, hoping the 86-year-old structure could be relocated.
But on Monday, crews began knocking the home to the ground.
“I just heard a bunch of noise up there and saw it going on,” said Greg Moretti, 37, of Woodside. “Whatever side of the demolition debate you are on, it’s hard to deny that what we are witnessing here today is the loss of a significant piece of California architectural history.”
Jobs’ attorney, Howard Ellman, said, “He applied to demolish the house, we got the house demolition permit, and the demolition started today. What more can I say?”
The home, designed by noted architect George Washington Smith for copper baron Daniel Jackling, had 30 rooms – including 14 bedrooms – and 13 1/2 bathrooms, and was located on 6 acres of forested land.
Jobs, chief executive of Apple Inc., bought the mansion in 1984, lived in it for 10 years and then rented it, but had left it vacant since 2000. Last month, the computer magnate said he was going on medical leave for the third time in seven years.
The Woodside Town Council first approved his application for a demolition permit in 2004. The council said the building was a historic resource but agreed with Jobs that restoring it would be expensive and economically unworkable.
But a group called Save Our Heritage went to court and blocked the demolition. A San Mateo County judge and an appellate court agreed that Jobs had failed to show that tearing down the house was his only practical option.
Jobs then submitted more information to the Town Council, which held public hearings and approved another demolition permit in May 2009. Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner, who had rejected the previous plan, upheld the council’s decision last year.
Weiner said Jobs had presented evidence that it would cost millions of dollars more to renovate the mansion than to build his proposed new home.
She also cited an expert report on the deterioration of the building, which suffered from vandalism, rot, mold, decay and animal and bird infestations. It was also 160 feet from a branch of the San Andreas Fault.
Douglas Carstens, a lawyer for Save Our Heritage, said, “It’s a very sad day today, and it’s a shame. I hope that people in the future will remember and be able to appreciate these very fine historic houses.”