i was digging around in the Life Magazine archives (as i often do) when i came across these photos of a beautiful modern beach house in the La Jolla shores area of San Diego. after doing a bit of research i learned that it was designed by american architect William Kesling for Walton MacConnell in 1946-47. amazingly the original address is actually listed, so i looked it up on google maps – and it seems like some of the original part of the house might still be in existence! though it looks to have been extended on a massive scale.

i find that so unfortunate about beach properties these days, i know that it’s prime real estate and only super rich people can really afford them – and they have all the money to build super huge mansions – but it’s a shame to me that you don’t often see the small, charming beach cottages that were built back in the 40s, 50s, 60s… there are still a handful of them in Cape Town, you can spot a few original bungalows on the shores of Clifton and Camps Bay beaches. i hope that their owners never turn them into monstrous mansions.

anyhoo! these are nice pics to look at anyway. they were taken in 1947 by Peter Stackpole and featured in the November 3 issue of Life Magazine, pages 154-160. it all sounds pretty amazing… except maybe for that Cuban houseboy. here are some of my favourite bits:

With a Cuban houseboy, a barbeque pit, a fishing rod and a telescope, retired bachelor Walton MacConnell has settled down in the elegant, sunny little town of La Jolla, California to a pleasant, lounging existence. As a setting for this life he has built himself a dramatic, glossy, $40,000 home which hugs the edge of a 50-foot seaside cliff. Here the Pacific swishes around under the living-room floor and occasionally splashes up soothingly over the huge windows.

In the living room his guests loll around, waiting until nightfall when they usually dress formally for a dance in the cliff-enclosed patio.

At night, when there is no reflection, the living room window is invisible and MacConnell worries constantly lest unsuspecting guests walk right through it. So far several have hit it but none has been hurt.

On the bedroom roof guest Nancy Chase snoozes. Roofing of asphalt and crushed ceramics reflects extra sun for an even tan.

you can read the original article at the bottom of the post.


  1. woah, it’s beautiful! but…. I dunno, something about the story kind of creeps me out – maybe it’s how they mention that the homeowner is a retired bachelor. it makes me think these beautiful gals are just this particular weekend’s fare. though, hey, go for it dude. and I so agree about beach homes. the only explanation for California ones in particular might be that they have become year-round residences. but, still. chill on the 10 bedroom mansions everybody.

  2. My parents were born in 1946, and both grew up just south of La Jolla. Many years later, I grew up in the same area, too. I rode my bike up to the Shores a lot, and always swooned over the incredible homes along the coast. In the ’90s, there were still plenty of cottage-y ones. Seems like they have become especially behemoth and bland in the past decade (or maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic).

    Thank you so much for sharing this find!

  3. Sigh, if only the surrounding area of this once gorgeous home wasn’t now developed, much of what I wnjoy about the architectural design is the sparse landscape which is now saturated with homes. I love to browse the stacks of old Life magazines at my parent’s in New York, I will need to seek out this story next visit home.

  4. ‘Retired bachelor’ may have meant something rather different back then…I’m thinking about that Cuban houseboy….

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  6. I’ve been in the MacConnell house many times. JoBobbi MacConnell still lives there and is in her 90s. The original house remains much the same and they simply added a guest quarters at the street level, pool and elevator to connect the two. It remains a classic beach house in all of it’s 1940s glory.

  7. JoBobbie MacConnell-Showley is my godmother. I have been to this house many times growing up and have spent the night there as well. It is a magical house with a lot of happy memories for me.

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