The embattled property where Palo Alto pioneer rancher Juana Briones once built her home is up for sale for $5.3 million, following 13 years of lawsuits that ended in the home's demolition last year.
The land was the location of Palo Alto's then-oldest residence, a 166-year-old adobe building. Juana Briones de Miranda, a healer and humanitarian, ranched in the hills above what are now Foothill Expressway and Arastradero Road.
Her pedigree with respect to the area was long: She was the daughter of members of the historic De Anza expedition into California in 1776 and a member of the early California population who were of Spanish, Mexican and Native-American descent, according to the Juana Briones Heritage Association.
The 1844-45 structure was an amalgam of the original adobe and later additions by other owners. It contained remnants of a rare form of adobe architecture, of which there is only one other example in the state, according to architectural historians.
Nulman and Welczer sought to demolish the building, which they said was badly damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, after unsuccessfully seeking to remove two wings that were added by later owners. The couple planned to build a home.
They won a case challenging a Palo Alto historic-preservation ordinance. The court said the regulation did not apply to their part of the city at the time an earlier property owner entered into an agreement to receive property-tax benefits in exchange for the home's preservation and scheduled public access.
In 2007, Friends of the Juana Briones House sued and won a stay against the demolition, but on appeal, Nulman and Welczer prevailed.
The home was dismantled in May 2011, and part of the original adobe wall was sold to the Palo Alto Stanford Heritage (PAST) for $30,000.
At the time of its dismantling, the couple's attorney said it was unlikely they would move to the property.
Nulman and Welczer could not be reached for comment this week. But Coldwell Banker Los Altos agent Royce Cablayan said he had only just listed the property. He did not know why the couple was selling the property, but he praised its attributes.
"It's a gorgeous lot. The street itself is a very upscale street. It's in a very, very desirable area. This part of Palo Alto is stunning," he said.
He was not familiar with the controversy surrounding the Briones home. But he said it might explain why he has run into complaints since posting for-sale signs.
"I get calls from people about the signs and the size of the signs," he said, noting he hasn't run into this problem before. "I was wondering, 'Why are these people so unhappy?'"
Clark Akatiff, an advocate who had lobbied for the home's preservation, said he couldn't say anything negative after the long fight.
"As far as everyone's disappointments are concerned, that's past history. I'm happy we were able to keep this piece of the home," he said.
There are three or four ideas on how the remnant might be used, including the possibility of displaying it in the future Palo Alto History Museum or perhaps creating a memorial in Esther Clark or Byxbee parks. But he said the decision would be collaborative.
"I've wrestled with the idea since last year, but I thought the dust needed to settle. It's time to be able to do something, I hope to will be a way to not only memorialize and save the building, but also be educational," he said.
Cablayan said he doubted he would use the property's historic provenance as a selling point.
"There is nothing left there," he said.
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