Jacobs HouseArchitecture Professor’s Real Estate Gift Celebrates Passion for Tulane

It was a monumental undertaking when Tulane School of Architecture professor Steve Jacobs decided to turn the classic New Orleans style shotgun house “on its head,” but it was quite the opposite when his brother, Gary Jacobs, donated Steve’s home to Tulane.

Gary describes the Gift Planning team in glowing terms, “They were flexible, they understood what I wanted to do and in the end we got something rather nice.”

Steve Jacobs, who passed away in 2014, was a Professor Emeritus at the Tulane School of Architecture. A New York native, he received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from M.I.T. and his Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania before beginning his career with Tulane in 1971.

Jacobs conceptualized his Riverbend home as a “vertical shotgun.” The classic New Orleans shotgun is a long, skinny, horizontal structure, but Jacobs upended the traditional form, creating a tall, narrow building where each space ascends to the next. Gary Jacobs describes the house as a reflection of his brother, “He built a house that really was unique. It was designed by him, for him to live in. It is somewhat austere with a very disciplined and quiet aesthetic. It’s an extraordinary piece, an art work essentially.”

Gary describes his brother as a self-effacing man, so much so that, although Steve very much liked the idea of leaving his home to Tulane, he was reluctant to broach the subject with the university. Gary contacted the Office of Gift Planning to arrange for the donation. For him, the space was such a quintessential product of Steve’s mind that donating it to an institution where Steve had spent so many years only made sense.

The Stephen Paul Jacobs House is now used to house visiting and new Tulane faculty. When he first arrived at Tulane, Jacobs benefitted from a similar arrangement. The experience of having a dedicated home as he first arrived in the city left a strong impression, and he wanted his own home to provide faculty with a similar opportunity.

Assistant Professor of Architecture Emily Baker was the inaugural resident of the Stephen Paul Jacobs House. She said of the experience, “Living in the Jacobs House for our first year in New Orleans was a beautiful experience—light always filling the house and a constant connection to the outdoors. It's a wonderful asset for the school.”

Steve Jacobs left the house to his brother, Gary, who then received a tax deduction based on the appraised value of the house when he in turn donated it to Tulane.

“He left the house to me, and he understood that I was going to give it to Tulane. That enabled me to have a charitable deduction.”

Gary was able to donate funds to help support the completion of the remarkable structure and provide an endowment to maintain it.

For Gary Jacobs, the Stephen Paul Jacobs house stands as monument not only to his brother’s architectural brilliance, but of his devotion to Tulane as well.

“It memorializes Steve, but gives Tulane something that is really useful.”