Little people houses of La JollaReal Estate Thursday, January 19th, 2017
You’ve probably heard of a new house trend: the tiny house. Built today for folks who want to seriously downsize, the tiny house is a 2000s phenomenon. But there is a very special house in our town that legend tells us was built way back in the 1930s for tiny people, otherwise referred to as “munchkins.”
The Wizard of Oz was a captivating story indeed and the story goes that little munchkin people made their way down to San Diego and built some miniature houses on Mt. Soledad. In fact, though little munchies were not the architects, these little cottages did exist. Four of them were built by well-known architect Cliff May on Hillside Drive in La Jolla.
If you go on a hunt, as many folks want to do, taking Torrey Pines Road to Hillside, you will chance upon the one remaining cottage on your left. It’s not exactly a miniature, and not as super cutesy as you might hope, but it gives the impression of extreme smallness because of its positioning on the steep hill.
The legend of the munchkin houses lives on. Folks used to say that the houses were actually built for the munchkins and that they resided there. The author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, did write some of the story while in San Diego, and the four houses were built contemporaneously with the story.
Architects, who like to play with space, enjoyed taking advantage of the slope of the road, and this made the houses look stunted. They are not actually smaller than usual, only appear so. I guess he added the cottagey features for effect.
But we like stories, don’t we, and everyday life can get dull. So it’s fun to imagine dwarfs and circus acts and other odd people living in our midst in their miniaturized world. San Diego boasts a few of these legendary and visit worthy anomalies. Along with the fabled Munchkin houses in La Jolla, we have the so called Troll Bridges. You can find them by taking Exchange Place onto Soledad Road and then a right into Al Bahr. If you follow it along, you will chance upon the three adorable bridges.
For fun, try San Diego’s gravity hill, a location at the base of a hill that will make a parked car in neutral roll up the hill. La Jolla’s gravity hill is on West Muirlands Drive between Nautilus and Fay Streets. Then, last but not least, the Mushroom House, visible from Torrey Pines State Park. This futuristic structure built for Sam Bell owes its unique shape to its owner’s desire for an earthquake proof roof.
Riding around to visit these San Diego gems has an unintended benefit. Not only will you be entertained by these folklorish structures, you will be captivated by the overlook on our fair city all these lofty sites afford.
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