Click on picture to enlarge.
By Dave Boyce
Almanac Staff Writer
Noted architect George Washington Smith reportedly designed 54 homes in Santa Barbara and one in Woodside during the first three decades of the 20th century. The Woodside home -- the Daniel C. Jackling house -- is gone, demolished in 2011 by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but a collection of artifacts lives on. The town has no space to display them, but might a resident or two in Santa Barbara be interested in giving them a home in a Smith-designed house?
Sending artifacts to Santa Barbara was one of several new ideas aired at the Woodside Town Council meeting on Tuesday (July 9) in response to the persistent question of what to do with the Jackling House artifacts. The council asked the History Committee to look again at this question and make recommendations, including which artifacts to keep.
The committee made its original selections in 2010, with some artifacts going to the San Mateo County Historical Association and a museum at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Of Woodside's collection, a few are on display in the tiny community museum, but most are in a weatherproof storage bin outside.
Woodside residents Qian Su and Ben Gilad would like to acquire and restore some of the artifacts for a Smith-inspired home they're planning on Whiskey Hill Road. The History Committee gave a positive response to this proposal, Planning Director Jackie Young told the council.
The couple would be willing to open the house periodically to allow the public to view the artifacts, town officials have said. Council members expressed wariness about the couple's commitment, musing that they would tire of the artifacts. Councilman Dave Burow proposed that should this idea go forward, the couple be required to modify the deed to their home to protect the artifacts in case they sell the house.
Council members returned again and again to the point of establishing a collection in the first place: to create a benefit for the public about the history of Woodside. But how? There is essentially no space for a permanent display and a rotating exhibit in such a small space could be costly to design and construct.
"If we decided that something is significant enough to save it and three years later we decide that we're not willing to (spend the money) to display it, we're proven that we do not have the moral fortitude to keep something for a period of time," Councilman Peter Mason said.
There are more items in the collection than could ever fit in the museum, Mayor Anne Kasten said.
Several council members wondered why the History Committee seemed prepared to divest the museum of the items without having expressed a desire to keep some. "The fact that they didn't do that, it contradicts everything I've come to believe about the History Committee," Mr. Burow said.
The council directed Town Manager Kevin Bryant to have the History Committee come up with a list as to which artifacts to keep and what to do with the others, and to look into the question of how to exhibit what remains, including the possibility of displaying them elsewhere, whether in town or out.
In his staff report, Mr. Bryant proposed an auction as one way to dispose of artifacts no one wanted. Council members Tom Shanahan and Mr. Burow backed the idea that Ms. Su and Mr. Gilad buy them via an auction. "We're not talking about astronomical prices here," Mr. Burow said.
"The town is not in the business of raising money and making that the tail end of this story," Mayor Kasten said. Display them in town or find a way to keep them.
"I would rather see this stuff in an original George Washington Smith house," Mr. Mason said. Advertise their availability in Santa Barbara where they would be in the company of other "real artifacts," he said. "We know (Santa Barbara owners) are not going to throw them in the junk."