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Famous La Jollans

September 3, 2011 | By | 9 Replies More

Mitt Romney's House

Mitt Romney’s Jolla, California, home.

Mitt Romney– yes the GOP candidate – is La Jolla’s newest celebrity resident. In fact, he and his wife Ann bought their beachfront home here in 2008, but no one paid much attention until he filed an application to bulldoze the $12 million house and build a much larger mansion on the site.

If you’re in town and would like to see the “before,” the house is located at 311 Dunemere Drive. The best view is from the beach, which can be accessed from the end of Sea Lane. Island Architects is working on a plan for a new two-story, 11,000-square-foot structure.

The Romney house is in an area of La Jolla known as the Barber Tract, adjacent to the home formerly owned by Cliff Robertson. The actor grew up in La Jolla and graduated from La Jolla High in 1941.

Another actor, Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla and his pharmacist father worked at Putnam’s Pharmacy (where Nine-Ten Restaurant is now) in The Grande Colonial Hotel on Prospect Street. In 1947, Peck co-founded La Jolla Playhouse with his friends Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer. The Playhouse has sent many shows to Broadway and won a Tony Award for Best Regional Theatre.


Raquel Welch, Robin Wright (Penn), director Gore Verbinski, and film maker Yoav Potash also went to La Jolla High. Dustin Hoffmann doesn’t live in La Jolla, but seems to enjoy the Whaling Bar at La Valencia.

It’s possible that actors, politicians, and world-renown scientists choose to live in La Jolla, not only because it’s beautiful, but because they know they won’t be pestered by local residents.

Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

I passed Jonas Salk on La Jolla Shores Beach one day and never broke my stride – in spite of the fact that I know he invented the polio vaccine that saved millions of lives.

Salk and his wife Francoise Gilot moved to La Jolla in 1960, where he established the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. If you haven’t seen this stunning complex designed by Louis Kahn on North Torrey Pines Road, add it to your sightseeing list. Completed in 1967, the original Institute buildings were declared an historic landmark in 1991. (BTW, Salk, who died in 1995, never patented the vaccine or earned any money from it.)

Speaking of La Jolla Shores Beach, Senator and Cindy McCain own a condo in the area.

Geisel Library at UCSD, La Jolla, California.

The late Ted Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, arrived in La Jolla in 1948 and built a home at the top of Mt. Soledad. It was here that he wrote the popular books that became children’s classics. He died in 1991 and the library at UCSD is named in his honor. His widow is one of several La Jollans that have been on the Forbes 400 list.

Other “richest” include Irwin Jacobs (Qualcomm), Ted Waitt (Gateway Computers), the Spanos Family (San Diego Chargers), and Ron Burkle (supermarkets and more).

The concrete and glass UCSD library, in the shape of a lantern, is the perfect tribute to “Dr. Seuss,” a man who continues to delight children with his fanciful characters.

Photo credit: ADAMS /HANSEN STOCK PHOTOS.

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Category: famous La Jollans

Elizabeth Hansen

About the Author ()

I live in La Jolla and I'm a travel writer, so in addition to enjoying my home town's great weather, beautiful surroundings, and range of cultural and recreational options, I also see La Jolla - and the rest of San Diego - as a travel destination. And what I see sometimes drives me batty. People vacation in La Jolla, but don't take advantage of everything our community offers, so I decided to start this blog and provide insider advice for out-of-towners. Hey. I figure if I can write insider tips about exotic destinations on Authentic Luxury Travel, I ought to be able to lead readers off the beaten path that starts just outside my front door. In the process, I'm having fun revisiting my favorite places and discovering some new ones. Travel writers are naturally snoopy, and this blog is my excuse to have a good ol' sticky beak around my home town. I hope you find it helpful. If you are coming to La Jolla or another area of San Diego and would like my help in planning your trip, please read "Need Help Planning Your Trip" and then email me at ehansen298@aol.com. Elizabeth Hansen

Comments (9)

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  1. David Chism says:

    Elisabeth, this was a fun blog to read. I love hearing about the history of La Jolla, especially about the famous folks! I agree with you: famous people can live in La Jolla and live private lives. We’ve painted for a number of the people you mentioned such as the Waits and “Dr. Seuss”. The Waitts used to own a house near where Mit R. Purchased: Corner of Sea Ln. Most of the famous people are pretty normal and like to be left alone. I don’t blame them. Anyways, enjoyed your blog. I’ll be back.

  2. Charlotte says:

    Dear Elizabeth,
    Thank you. That was very interesting. Actually, Ted Geisel and his first wife lived in the Shores. Later he built the house on the hill. His step-daughter, Lark, is a well-known sculpturer. She did the big sculpture of Dr. Seuss in front of the UCSD library and many others. She and Jennifer were Brownies together. I think she lives in Hawaii now. Also Russell Forester is a nationally known architect. He originally lived with his first wife on the the hill and then in a house just up the street from Mitt Romney with Christine who is also quite well known. His daughter and Jennifer were good friends. Dr. Spock lived here for quite a few years. I went to his funeral in the Episcopal church which was quite something. He was a nice man. Anne Rice lived here for a while but I think has since moved. I will keep thinking.

  3. Charlotte says:

    Dear Elizabeth,
    I thought of an internationally famous La Jollan, Niki de Saint Phalle. She had a house on Torrey Pines and died at Scripps Hospital in 2002. Some of her sculptures are at UCSD, some in front of the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park and in front of the Pompidou Museum in Paris. Then there is a Tarot garden in the south of France.
    You are welcome to use my comment on your Blog.

  4. I can’t believe I missed Niki de Saint Phalle. I love her work. Her colorful mosaic sculptures can be seen on the UCSD campus, in Balboa Park, and in Escondido at the North County Performing Arts Centre – but the best is her “Queen Calafia’s Magical Circle” in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park.

  5. Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson died on Saturday, one day after turning 88, in Long Island New York.

  6. Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson died on Saturday, one day after turning 88, in Long Island New York.

  7. "reliable source/ex-pat" says:

    I have lived in Cabo San Lucas for 15 years now, but prior to that La Jolla.

    I was reading about Cliff Roberston and stumbled on your wonderful blog and in reading it realized I might have a tidbit of info for you.

    Dustin Hoffmans mother is/was in a retirement home facility in La Jolla and he frequently visited her and I’m assuming that was his stimulus to occasionally having a drink in the celebrity friendly Whaling Bar.

  8. Anonymous says:

    In the new Forbes 400 List, Ron Burkle is #107, Irwin Jacobs is #372, and the Family of Alexander Spanos is #375.

  9. I keep thinking of people I forgot when I wrote this post.

    Dr. Roger Revelle, who died in 1991, was one of the founders of the University of California, San Diego and among the first scientists to study global warming. Dr. Revelle’s widow died in 2009.

    Their La Jolla estate is on the market for $12.5 million.

    The property has been in the Revelle family since 1920; the house was built in 1922. It has 115 feet of beachfront and a 4,100-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom house, as well as a guest house. There’s also a fish pond and a swimming pool.

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