Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Inside Steve Jobs' tear-down mansion

April 27, 2009: 9:42 AM ET
Jankling House © Scott Haefner

Photo © Scott Haefner

On Tuesday a California city council will reconsider Steve Jobs' longstanding request for permission to tear down the empty 84-year-old mansion that stands on the site where he wants to build a smaller, modern house more to his exacting taste.

The 17,250-square-foot Spanish colonial, located in Woodside, Calif., one of the wealthiest small towns in America, was designed by George Washington Smith for Daniel C. Jackling, self-made millionaire (copper) and San Francisco society-page headliner who filled his home with expensive artwork and traveled the world by private railroad car and custom-built yacht.

Apple's (AAPL) CEO bought the 30-room hacienda in 1984, the year the Mac was released, and camped out there for the better part of a decade before moving to Palo Alto.

He found the sprawling mansion a cold and dreary place to live. He has called it "one of the biggest abominations of a house I've ever seen" and says it will cost more to restore than to replace. At one point he offered to give it to anyone willing to pay to have it moved.

Copper mailbox © Scott Haefner

Copper mailbox © Scott Haefner

Preservationists, led by Uphold Our Heritage's Friends of the Jackling House, blocked Jobs' first petition in a legal battle that went all the way to the California Supreme Court. They call the Santa Barbara-style manse an architectural treasure worthy of  National Register nomination and bemoan the damage it has suffered in the 10 years it has stood -- unoccupied and neglected -- at the center of its 6-acre grounds.

"Rain drips through the roofs on to the Aeolian Pipe organ," wrote photographer Jonathan Haeber in 2008. "A classic pool table sits in a room with the pool balls still in the racks. The faint scent of skunk permeates the interior."

Below the fold: some rare glimpses inside the house that Jobs hates, in its current state of disrepair.

The doorway to one of 10 bathrooms © Scott Haefner

The doorway to one of 10 bathrooms. Photo © Scott Haefner

Rain-damanged Aeolean pipe organ © Scott Haefner

Rain-damaged pipe organ. Photo © Scott Haefner

Pipe organ detail. Photo © Scott Haefner

Pipe organ detail. Photo © Scott Haefner

Tile floors and ceiling beams. Photo by Thalia Lubin

Pool table, tile floors and ceiling beams. Photo by Thalia Lubin

Interior stairway. Photo: Jonathan Haeber

Grand stairway. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

One of the 14 bedrooms. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

One of the 14 bedrooms. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

Abandoned kitchen. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

Abandoned kitchen. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

Foyer, with refrigerator. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

Foyer, with refrigerator. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

Marble bathroom sink. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

Marble bathroom sink. Photo by Jonathan Haeber

For a colorful account of Daniel Jackling's life and times, click here. To view Jobs' updated petition, go to the Town of Woodside's website.

Scott Haefner, Thalia Lubin and Jonathan Haeber's photos reposted by permission. To see more of Haefner's work, click here. For more from Haeber, click here and here.

Join the Conversation
About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

Email | @philiped | RSS
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.