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Original post made
on May 25, 2011
This will be Kent Mitchell's great legacy...being party to the tearing down of a 150 old historic home and a priceless Native Aamerican rock wall. Other individuals'grandchildren will point to what their grandparents created. For Mitchell's descendants, it will all be about he he helped tear down. That's the finalegacy of his public service.
If it was really worth preserving, then it should have been moved to beside the Woodside Store, or some museum site. If they can take London Bridge brick by brick across the Atlantic, then this relic could have been moved somewhere more accessible for those wanting to preserve it to visit.
"being party to the tearing down of a 150 old historic home and a priceless Native Aamerican rock wall."
Let's try to avoid exaggeration and outright lies. Read the story. The home is not being destroyed. A special firm is taking it apart and the rock wall will be given to Palo Alto.
People had their opportunity to purchase this house. Instead they chose to try to control it without having any financial stake in the manner.
It is about time the owner triumphed and got rid of this dubious" historic" eyesore. I hear that the owner may sue the "friends" group that caused him so much grief.
Goodbye and good riddance to the Briones dump
And perhaps the adobe portion of the home can still be preserved and relocated. As stated in the article, it is not being demolished, but "deconcontructed" piece by piece and therefore the possibility that it can be relocated to a public site for the public to enjoy still exists - perhaps to the nearby Esther Clark preserve which was part of the orignial Juana Briones Rancho (along with the plague and rock wall that Clark Atatiff mentions also need a home)? Of course, this would take some significant $$$ donations, but from what I have read, it seems that the passion to raise the funding to preserve this historically significant structure (and in doing so perhaps partially compensate the owners for their expensive legal battles) is there. Maybe this is something that PAST and the PA Women's Club can take on in partership? All the elements are there -- great woman in history (and among her accomplishments one of the first to own property in CA), historical structure, etc. Therefore, the funding should follow if people truly want to preserve this structure (as opposed to simply attacking and blaming the owners and their attorney)...
1. No one had the opportunity to purchase the house because it was not for sale and it was under litigation.
2.The place was not a dump when the owners bought it. Almost 20 years of total neglect will have that affect on any property.
"1. No one had the opportunity to purchase the house because it was not for sale and it was under litigation."
I am sure for the right price it could have been purchased. But the house had been on the market before. Plus the city of Palo Alto did nothing to preserve this home for the last 5 decades.
"The home on Old Adobe Road went through numerous renovations and was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but remained open for tours until 1993.
Palo Alto's building inspector declared it a dangerous structure in 1996 and ordered the adobe section vacated."
There were plenty of opportunities for the city/interested individuals to buy and preserve this house.(see linkf or ownership from 1924: Web Link) Obviously no one wanted to make the financial commitment--better to have someone else preserve it while you bark orders at them.
This sounds a lot like the story of Steve Jobs and his Woodside house. He neglected it for enough years that it was falling down by itself, and - voila! - he got his demolition permit. Then there was the oldest wood frame house in town, which the developer wanted torn down. He was told that he had to build around it, and - voila! - it mysteriosly burned down. I think it was at Waverley and Forest, or Homer. Oh, and the couple in Los Altos Hills who, after being told they couldn't demolish, did it anyway and paid a fine. Money speaks.
Please note, from the websites I provided that the house was declared a dangerous structure before it was sold to the current owners. The previous owners and the city allowed itto deteriorate.
Did the people who wanted to preserve the house offer to maintain it because they thought it was so valuable? No. If litigation had been stopped, perhaps the preservationists could have made a deal to buy the property. But they apparently wanted someone else, including the City, to pay any costs.
As many know, only the center portion was part of the original house. At least two additions were made much later which hardly makes the entire structure historic.
Jaime Nulman lives on a street named after one of Juana's daughters (Manuela). He lives down the street from Juana Briones Park and a school name after her. The house he so selfishly demolished is on a street called Old Adobe Rd. Down the road is a CA landmark dedicated to Juana. Jaime/Welzcar have cursed themselves and he lives in a community that will always remind him of what he did. "Jaime and Welzcar, look around you, you live in Juana's memeory and past!" You can't escape that!
If it was worth preserving, the city should have bougth it ..
Its being relocated - enjoy it at a different spot. Let the owners get returns on the land they had purchased ..
Very little of that house was actually original, it wasn't worth saving. If those who wanted to save it had come up with the money to move the house to a location of their choice, they should have done it. It wasn't fair to the owners to have strung them along for all those years, I'm glad the City had to reimburse them for their legal fees. As a City taxpayer the City should have stopped all this litigation years ago and saved the taxpayers of PA all that money.
The house is not being relocated. A wall is bring preserved. Please read the story.
I am always amazed at people who want what they want, and won't adapt, no matter how many people are against them. As though they were fighting for truth and justice, but they were fighting for selfish, self-centered self-gratification. They bought a historic structure with the intention of demolishing it. Luddites.
Well they won. Now they say they have no plans? Liar. liar, pants on fire.
@Selfish - your comment is funny, since it applies pretty well to te preservationists as well as the owners (in your view anyway). As with many issues around here, no-one is covered with glory in terms of how they handled the disagreement.
The home is located in a very costly residential area. Did or did not the current owners receive a huge property tax break in exchange for purchasing/owning a historic property? I've asked this before and not received an answer, but I am interested and I think it makes a difference.
You want to save something? Buy it yourself.
This is a perfect example of banking on a litigation "all or nothing" approach to solve a problem; the risk is that at the end of the day you end up with nothing.
HOWEVER, fortunately, unlike with the examples cited above -- including Steve Jobb's Jackling house -- the house is being deconstructed "board by board", not demolished.
SO! there is still an opportunty here to relocate the adobe house -- or some smaller version of it -- to a public site where the public can see, touch and feel it.
Let's focus on that OPPORTUNITY and put our dollars behind it rather than rehashing the fight which the owner clearly won.
... and what is interesting here is that Juana Briones herself had to go all the way to the US Supreme Court to protect her rights to this property --and she won!
If that court decision hadn't been respected, then there would be no house to save.
Now the CA Supreme Court has just handed down its decision favoring the current owners of the house.
Its time to respect that decision, move forward and work with the owners to save what can still be saved of the adobe house and relocate it -- either to Esther Clark nature preserve down the street (which was original part of Juana Briones' Rancho) or to Juana Briones Park.
If the preservationist really cared about the house -- as oppsosed to "beating" the owner (which they lost)-- then they would be focusing on this solution rather licking their wounds.
Again, there is still the opportunity to save and relocate the adobe house, but time is wasting!
>it applies pretty well to te preservationists as well as the owners
No it doesn't. There is a big difference between trying to save something for the community and valuing its history, and promoting self-interest. Valuing our history is not for personal gain. Can't you tell the difference? Sad.
People who say buy it yourself believe that money should decide everything. Limited narrow thinking.
> People who say buy it yourself believe that money should decide everything. Limited narrow thinking.
And your thinking is equally narrow: expecting a single person to bear the brundt of providing a benefit for the entire community. Come on! That never works and is not fair.
Again! Stop licking wounds and rehashing the past and focus on the OPPORTUNITY before it is lost forever.
If the community really cared it would band together, put up themoney and relocate the adobe house or some version of it to a public site.
Can't understand some of the attitudes here.
If this is historic and worth saving, then it needs to be seen by the community, school field trips, historic reenactments and other uses. It needs to be maintained, restored and enjoyed for the history it supposedly can bring to our lives. At present, it isn't in the condition to do this or even in the type of neighborhood which would want sightseers and floods of school trips.
What is at present a derelict building is no good to anyone. Keeping it in its present condition is doing nobody any good.
If it is worth saving, it is worth moving. If it is worth moving it is going to have to be maintained and restored. If nobody is going to do any of this, there is no point whatsoever in wasting time and energy as well as money that isn't available. If a historical society wants to spend the money then they should speak up and act. Otherwise, removed the eyesore.
What we have in this city is a group of "historical zealots" who believe that everything is historic and needs to be "preserved". Of course they feel no need to make any financial commitment for this--they just want to usurp private property rights and tell people what to do with their homes. The "friends" group that has been fighting the current owner is an example of this self-centered group of people. I hope that the owner sues them and wins a big settlement.
As for the Briones Home--it was declared dangerous in 1996. It was heavily damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake. How come the city and these zealots at that time did nothing to preserve the house if it was so important.
As others have pointed out, there have been numerous additions to this home over the years and only a small portion of the house actually may date back to Juana Briones' time.
Finally, the home is not being demolished, it is being deconstructed. It is not too late for the "friends" group to put their money where their mouths are and buy the piece.
Finally, a general warning--beware of any Palo Alto groups that use the term "friends" in their title--they usually have a hidden agenda--look at Alma Plaza and what the "friends" group has accomplished there.
Well said, "Too much Traffic".
My understanding is that the current owner offered to preserve and restore the adobe portion of the home onsite as part of his development plans but that the "friends" group rejected this, instead choosing to litigate for the chance to force the owner to preserve the entire house. And then lost it all.
Greedy, greedy makes a hungry puppy!
@Selfish, self-centered - again, check the mirror, friend. You think you are preserving "for the community," which means you and people who agree with you. The other folks think they are protecting property rights "for everyone." We should all get off our high horses and try to work out compromises.
The DCA (Don't change anything) mindset is almost as bad ad the NIMBY one. Frickin hoarders.
You should borrow a mirror and check yourself in it first before you open your mouth to lecture us and keep saying those waw,waw,waw...
Kent Mitchell has pulled a "Steve Jobs" Neglect it to the point it has to be torn down. Shame this city is quick to forget it's past.
the people who bought the historic home and did not keep it up to par & should be fined for letting the house go to ruin. They should pay for the home to be moved and to be restored since they are the ones who let it go to ruin .. and didn't want the structure on the property they bought knowing that they were the caretakers of this historic home and still let it go to ruin. They should be jailed for letting our history be destroyed or just pay for the move and damages they allowed to happen while it was in their care.
I would like to shed some light in regards to the previous comment, "the people who bought the historic home and did not keep it up to par..."
I lived in the Juana Briones house during this era and can relate to you my firsthand experience of what actually occurred.
The house was in the same family for over 70 years. "Aunt Marjorie" bequeathed the property to her niece and nephews. The niece bought out her brother’s portion. However, little cash accompanied the inheritance and the niece was of average means.
Then the '89 earthquake struck. The house, without earthquake insurance, a foundation and made of brittle brick was hit hard. FEMA provide a few dollars, though nowhere near the amount needed to restore the structure.
I can tell you that this was a magical, special place. The center of the home dated back to 1844 and was indeed the most special part of the house. I lived in a suite of rooms above this portion. The dining room and other rooms were filled with historic, beautiful Eastlake furniture. During the holidays, the home glowed with warmth.
I feel fortunate to have lived there. The home provided a quiet, peaceful place during an academic period of my life. Perhaps this is a situation where with greater support from many players, this special place, with ties to women's rights, the Supreme Court and California history could have been saved.
I'm so sorry to learn that it is gone. We have lost a treasure.
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