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Save Juana Briones House/Home

Original post made by Anonymous, Old Palo Alto, on Jun 3, 2007

Hello again fellow citizens of Palo Alto and beyond!
Just fiinished reading another article on this old home from
today's Mercury News, and wanted to let all of you know that
the present owners should not be alllowed to go ahead with their
plans to demolish this historical icon/landmark. I once believed that
people who spend so much money on homes ought to have more
freedom in this regard, but have had a change of heart, and have decided, along
with many of you wise folks, that this is not acceptable. Why the present owners
would ignore the public outcry against there plans to demolish is beyond me.
Do they want to be known as the ones who ignored the communities sentiments
and simply go ahead with their big plans? How can such selfish behavior exist
in this case? Why don't they read the writing on the wall, or atleast on paloalto online, and
get out of dodge without destroying a historical landmark for the rest of Californial.
Perhaps if Juana had invented a computer in her garage I wouldn't need to be writiting this, but apparently being a healer is enough in this day and age. I am writing this to rally the troops, increase the heat, and let it be known that we've got some very selfish folks in our midst, but most of you are aware of this last point I suppose. Good Day!

Comments (14)

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Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2007 at 11:25 am

New evidence (see PA Daily) says that the Briones house was a unique construction style now commonly used in third world countries (the ones that get devastated by small earthquakes). In other words, it is NOT a reflection of CA history, but an odd bird with no value.

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Posted by bob
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2007 at 12:35 pm

First: How does anyone know how many people in Palo Alto want to save the Juana Briones house? A vocal minority does not a consensus make.

Second: If you wish to save it, put up your own money and buy it from the owners. Or spend your money to pursue another lawsuit. Why should scarce taxpayer's money be spent to further a few people's wants? Already the City (us taxpayers) have been forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a failed lawsuit.

Third: It is my understanding that substantial changes/renovations have been made over the years. Will these changes be removed and the house rebuilt to its original design - if the design can be agreed to? If so, it becomes a rebuilt, not an original historic house.

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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 3, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Anonymous--if you and your friends think that the Briones dump is so important and historic, then why don;t you start a collection and buy it. The city of PA and the assorted people who have no respect for private property rights have had years to get their hands on the Briones house--there was no interest or the city bungled the whole matter.
Either wa, as I see it, the only selfish people here arethose that are trying to control someone else's private property without having to invest a penny into it.
Tear down the Briones dump now!!!

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Posted by A resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2007 at 2:11 pm

The supporters of the Juana Briones house are the "very selfish folks." They are gouging the taxpayers of Palo Alto with their law suits, and devastating the lives of the couple who bought the house in the first place. They are continuing to pursue an assault on ths owner's private property rights.

It is time for the Juana Briones gang to put up or shut up. If it is this wonderful historical house they say it is, buy the place with your own money, and enjoy it with your friends. Meanwhile, leave the taxpayers of Palo Alto out of it.

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Posted by Truth
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 3, 2007 at 5:33 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2007 at 5:15 am

Tear down this dilapidated old house - SCRAPE IT!! I'm tired of reading about it. Our City government is totally irresponsible spending taxpayers money on futile lawsuits to save it; meanwhile, they say they can't aford to make the repairs to the storm drains they promised.

The Roth Building is a similar sink hole into which they are pouring our tax dollars when they can't aford to repair our streets. Our City Council has very distorted priorities.

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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 4, 2007 at 8:30 am

If what you angry folks are saying is true
blow it up
for all i care
just be careful that the flying debris
doesn't harm any of the toddlers
in the surrounding environs

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Agree with the posters who say...if you want to save it, you buy it. Stop tormenting the owners who bought it in good faith, and DO NOT spend any more tax money on this fiasco! Spend your own money, then charge a fee for visiting it, like a museum, if you truly believe that many people want to save it.

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Posted by Truth
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 4, 2007 at 6:44 pm

It's my understanding that BEFORE buying it, the current owners understood that the Briones home was an historic site and that they were forbidden to destroy it.

The current owners also received a generous 90% tax discount to offset the cost of preservation.

Like this comment
Posted by An Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2007 at 6:48 pm

The entire process on saving or not saving this house has been and is a disaster! The winners are the attorneys and the losers are the taxpayes and people who believe in property rights and laws that allow people to make use of their property.

While there was a great effort ,a few years ago, to save every house over 50 yrs old they ignored this house and didn't follow the rules, ignored the rules or didn't have a clue of what the rules were.

One of the great things about the U S of A is that people can own property and use it. Men and women go to war to defend our rights!
Should our soldiers come home to discover that the property the own has been taken over by a few people who think they own it and prevent the persons who fought for our rights really have no rights any more. Their rights were taken away by a screaming crowd.

Or are we a third world like city where a few rule. If you have unlimited money to get elected, once you are in you can make whatever rules you want and benifit you.

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Posted by Robert J. Chandler
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2007 at 7:59 pm

As an adjunct to the discussion of whether to save the oldest building in Palo Alto,
today, June 5, a group of friends of Juana Briones dedicated a headstone marking her long unknown grave in Holy Cross Cemetery, 1800 Santa Cruz Avenue. It reads,

Juana Briones, 1802-1889
A True Pioneer
She Cared

R.J. Chandler

Like this comment
Posted by Mel
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jun 7, 2007 at 12:33 am

I would like the historic building to be preserved. There are very few tangible remnants of 150 and 100 years ago here. To understand our values future generations should know what life was like for the pioneer families who settled this valley, and not just the rich and powerful. But, simply put, because this lot is worth several million dollars without its historical encumbrances, we are going to lose it. When the current owners bought the house they signed on to preserve the house and have received substantial reduction of property taxes in return. The city was shown to be negligent in ensuring the previous owners repaired and maintained the historic structure, therefore the court ruled the city can't demand the current owners repair and maintain the house. The question is: Does that mean they should be allowed to demolish the house, disregarding its historic value to the community? Over the years of litigation, the owners have not been willing to sell the property, and have allowed it to sit vacant, open to the elements. My understanding is the current legal action, to require an environmental impact report, would at least let the community know what we are losing, and offers the chance for some mitigation of this loss. We are all tired of litigation and unhappy the city is spending our money on lawyers. However, I think it is even worse if we don't do what we can now to save this unique piece of our past for the future.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2007 at 5:52 pm


What would you actually propose doing with the house? Would you like it to be a tourist attraction? Would you like all the local schools to do field trips to it? Would you turn it into some sort of museum.

I am in full agreement that if a building is truly historic then it should be preserved. But is this the place to do it? Wouldn't a better idea be to move it to a site where other historic buildings are preserved and can be seen by those who are interested. I have in mind somewhere like Kelley Park in San Jose where I think many of this type of buildings have been renovated.

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Posted by Mel
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 12:44 am

If Resident or Observer are still interested in the topic, I'm back.

The very best use of the property might be a living history museum, where past use of the land, past ways of living in the house could be learned by school children and adults. But if it is to remain in private hands, I would like to see the building restored to what it was 20 years ago. At that time tours were given of the home. Prior to that buses brought groups of students for visits. It is a unique building on a special piece of property. It has more value than simply how much money can be made selling the property when the historical encumbrances are gone.

As to trying to move it somewhere else, I suppose that is preferable to a small pile of rubble under a bulldozer. However, the place on the hill that it occupies is part of its significance, and the comparison with how it was on that hill when there was nothing and no one else around and what it is like today is what gives the sense of change.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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