Out & About—The La Jolla Munchkin House

Out & About

There is so much to see and do in La Jolla. After 21½ years living in the San Diego area, I’m still going to La Jolla to see and do things.

Recently I made a trip to La Jolla just to see the famous Munchkin House. Looks like this:

The Munchkin House of La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Munchkin House of La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Munchkin House of La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There used to be four of these Munchkin Houses, and there are many rumors about them, foremost of which is that after the success of “The Wizard of Oz” movie, released in August 1939, several “Munchkins” took their earnings and built four houses high up on the hillside overlooking La Jolla, houses that were not as tall as traditional homes.

Sadly, the facts aren’t near as exciting as the rumors.

IMG_9271 framedThe last of the remaining houses is located at 7477 Hillside Drive in La Jolla. Public records indicate that the house was built in 1935. That right there destroys the rumor that Munchkins took their earnings from a 1939 movie and had the houses built.

The house was designed by noted architect Cliff May (1909-1989). May grew up in San Diego and is best known for developing the suburban post-war dream home, the California Ranch House. He designed over 1,000 custom residences, and over 18,000 tract homes bear the imprint of his model house prototypes. He died at his mansion in Los Angeles in Brentwood, a neighborhood made famous worldwide by O.J. Simpson in 1994.

The Munchkin House has 1,176 square feet, two bedrooms and one bathroom, and was last sold in August 2003 for $975,000. Although 1,176 square feet certainly is small for a La Jolla home, look at the rear of the house—love the wraparound deck!—as well as the sweeping view it has of La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean:

The Munchkin House of La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ocean view from The Munchkin House of La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The other reason why the Munchkin rumors hold water (pun intended) is due to the lay of the land. I could easily touch the top of the roof without jumping. The house is built into the hillside, so some of it is below street level, leading to the optical illusion that the home’s height is lower than normal, perfect for Munchkins!

Look at the first picture, paying close attention to the doorway. See the path from the street to the door, below ground level? Then look at the window north of the doorway. See how the ground slopes up, making it look like the window is not as high as normal? It’s just closer to the ground is all.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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6 thoughts on “Out & About—The La Jolla Munchkin House

  1. operasmorg

    Nice shots, Russel! I love cycling through there… The slope does mellow a bit passing the Munchkin House, so it’s a good ‘regroup’ spot before it kicks up again toward Vie Sienna and the trail. Did you go by the two bridges on Castellana and Al Bahr, too? 🙂

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  2. Boomdeeadda

    I’m amazed what good shape the home is in given it’s age. Is it a ‘walkout’ then Russel? That’s what we have here. If you’re lucky to have a hillside lot, you can walk out of the lower level. We all have basements so that’s a big perk. Seemed pricey even for 2004 but probably seems like a deal then compared to now.

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