For those of you who don’t know, I live in the wonderful little seaside village of La Jolla, California — a little bump of a peninsula that peeks out into the Pacific with water on three sides. The village was originally founded as an out-of-the-way artists colony with a comfortable pace and a somewhat bohemian sensibility. Paint a little, write a little, surf a little. Through the years it’s been the home of glamorous actors and actresses, socialites, celebrities and corporate thieves. It’s also been the inspirational scene of some world renown writers.
For example, L. Frank Baum, though never a resident of La Jolla, modeled magical seascapes of his Oz books on the rocky cliffs, beaches and caves in and around La Jolla Cove.
Come, now, on a tour of the homes for some of the great literary talents who have called La Jolla home…
Our first visit is to, perhaps, the best of the bunch… Dr. Seuss!
Dr. Seuss’s home sits at the very top of Mount Soledad looking down on all of La Jolla, with 270 degree views of the Pacific. Many of his best loved books were written and illustrated in the second floor tower in the center of the above picture. The house is so prominent in the landscape of La Jolla that it can be seen from vantage points throughout the village, including from the sunroom deck outside my master bedroom. Dr. Seuss passed away in 1991, but his widow Audrey Geisel still lives in this house high atop the world.
Leaving Dr. Seuss’s house, we wind down Mount Soledad towards La Jolla Cove and arrive at the home of horror writer Anne Rice.
Anne moved to La Jolla in 2005 and lived in this house for only a year before relocating elsewhere in Southern California. La Jolla, she said in published interviews, was wonderful, but too cold, which is sort of true — my house is freezing during the winter, but then I try to endure the winter without turning on my heat. Anne still owns the house, which is currently on the market for a hefty 8-figure asking price. I would imagine that Anne could have afforded to push the thermostat a little past 68 degrees….
The next stop on our tour is a mile or so down the hill from my house — the ocean front home of mystery writer Raymond Chandler.
As you can see, the current owners are busy turning what once was a cool single story mid-century modern into a two story MacMansion — though they are, supposedly, preserving Chandler’s study and the bathroom where he once shot himself. I peeked inside and the whole place looked pretty ripped to pieces. So much for history. Nice view though… take a look.
Our final stop on this tour of La Jolla literary destinations is…
Yes, tucked behind all those trees and shrubs is where I write my stories and work on my photography. The house was built in 1927 and stands as one of the oldest “mansions” in La Jolla, though by today’s standards my house is one of the more modest homes on my street. It shares a lineage, of sorts, with Dr. Seuss, as both homes were designed by the same architect (Thomas Shepherd, though roughly 20 years apart).
My mostly-as-of-yet unpublished work may not share quite the same “oomph” as the other literary luminaries in La Jolla… but look who’s living in the historical landmark, hmm?