Palo Alto’s oldest residence is being taken apart “brick by brick, board by board,” to the dismay of history buffs who have long fought to save it.
The dismantling of the Juana Briones House began Friday, said Kent Mitchell, a lawyer for the property’s owners. He said the city last week reinstated a demolition permit on hold since its issuance in 2007 due to a legal challenge by preservationists.
“For people who have been involved, it’s sad news,” said Scott Smithwick, president of the Palo Alto Stanford Heritage preservation group. “Not unexpected, but sad.”
Briones, a successful rancher and businesswoman, built the home at 4155 Old Adobe Road in the 1840s. The city initially fought plans by current owners Jaim Nulman and Avelyn Welczer to demolish the historic structure. The Friends of the Juana Briones House then took up the fight but ultimately lost when the California Supreme Court refused to hear its appeal of a lower court’s ruling favoring the owners.