U.S. Navy and Local Population Save Historic Whidbey Island House

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, In The News

After writing about house fires in my last post, I thought I would attempt to find some uplifting news to write about this time. I was in luck, I not only found a couple of stories that ended well, but they were also pretty interesting.

The first deals with an old house that Steve Jobs owns. Yes, the rich and famous Steve Jobs of Apple fame. During the 1980’s he lived in an old house in California, that was constructed in 1925 by a gentleman who made his fortune in copper mining. Steve Jobs rented the old house out after he stopped living in it, and it sat vacant after that for about 10 years. Mr Jobs decided he wanted to demolish the house, and build something smaller in its place. The old house is considered to be historic in the area, and local people did not want it torn down. Evidently the way the rules concerning tearing down historic houses in the area are written, if an owner can demonstrate that it is cheaper to tear down a historic house and build a new home, than it is to restore the historic house, then the owner can be given permission to tear the old house down. Mr Jobs felt that it would cost 13 million to restore the old house, and only about 2.8 million to tear down the house and build a new one. However, before he was given permission to tear it down, an investor came forward, and is going to take the old house apart, and rebuild it at another location. Mr Jobs is contributing about $600,000 to the operation. So, everyone got what they wanted. The old house has been saved, and Mr Jobs will be able to build his smaller new home.

I also came across a story of a woman who was prepared to fight the U.S. Navy at Whidbey Island, Washington to save an old house. The house was built in 1915, and was located near a landing strip at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The Navy decided they were going to tear it down to make way for a new caretakers house. It was a sudden decision, and when some of the Whidbey Island residents got wind of what was about to happen, they gathered at the entrance gate at 6:00 AM to stop the demo crew from entering at 7:00. As it turned out, the group the woman organized did not have to stop the demo crew, the Navy had decided to hold off, and look at other options. A follow up story shows that the old house was saved, and moved to a new location. Once again, a happy ending where it seems like everyone got what they wanted.

Lastly, I came across some very nice restoration pictures of an old house in Naples, Florida. I really enjoy walking through an old house being restored, but nice pictures are the next best thing.