The 77th race season at the Del Mar Racetrack is upon us. Once again, the sights of Del Mar residents are filled with fashion and luxury as attendees gather to experience another year of tradition. Longtime announcer Trevor Denman’s familiar voice fills the air alongside the rhythmic beating of hooves racing across soil and grass. The air is crisp and fresh, enhanced by the steady ocean breeze floating from just a few hundred meters away.
Each year, these sensations fill Del Mar residents with feelings of gratitude and appreciation for coastal life. The longtime seaside community is home to pristine beaches, charming shops, award-winning restaurants, and striking architecture of all kinds. From coastal contemporary to mid-century modern, each home in Del Mar is a unique story ensconced with history, and each comes with the promise of great memories to come.
Architecture in Del Mar
The story of a home must begin at the first chapter: the architecture. Once home to renowned architects John Lloyd Wright and Herb Turner, Del Mar is rich in architectural history and design.
Del Mar Architect John Lloyd Wright
The second-eldest son of world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lloyd Wright relocated in 1947 to Del Mar, where over the course of 35 years, he designed more than 40 homes. Wright’s architectural style can best be categorized under the Prairie School movement, first seen around the turn of the 20th Century. If your children have ever spent an afternoon playing with Lincoln Logs, you can attribute those memories to John Lloyd Wright, as toymaker was his second profession.
One of Wright’s most notable projects, 1641 Crespo, is available as a luxury vacation rental in La Jolla. The history and architecture are juxtaposed with aerial ocean views that stretch from the Pacific horizon, up the Northern La Jolla coastline and beyond to the snow-capped Saddleback Mountains. At 1641 Crespo Drive near La Jolla Village, it is no question why Wright chose the picturesque locale as the backdrop for one of his creations.
Del Mar Architect Herb Turner
Another notable Del Mar architect began his journey in architecture after suffering a soccer injury at West Point Military Academy. Inspired by the designs of John Lloyd Wright, Herb Tuner left Upstate New York behind and packed his bags for the West Coast. He wrote to the famed architect, then living in Del Mar, requesting an apprenticeship, but received no response. After appearing on Wright’s doorstep, Turner was instead offered room and board in exchange for work around the property.
Turner lived upstairs in the home Wright designed at 420 Serpentine Drive in Del Mar during his apprenticeship with Wright. He earned a measly 75 cents per hour for the three-year apprenticeship before joining an architectural firm in 1955. The John Lloyd Wright home at 420 Serpentine is a unique property that offers breathtaking ocean views, and plenty of space while still feeling private, as though being cradled by the hills of Del Mar.
The property is preparing to hit the market with full, city-approved renderings and renovation plans completed by Del Mar based architectural firm Bokal and Sneed. The opportunity to live in the home of not one, but two famous architects does not come around often, and typically not in such a vibrant and appealing community as Del Mar.
Turner eventually opened his own family-run design-build firm and also worked as an artist. Over the course of his career, Turner completed more than 50 projects in and around Del Mar. His art can be found in institutions such as the La Jolla Art Guild and the San Diego Museum of Art. Turner built and lived at 606 Zuni Drive in Del Mar, and continued to design until his passing in 2010.
The parallels between 606 Zuni and the home Turner shared with Wright at 420 Serpentine can be felt in the architecture as well as the locale. Both properties are spacious, serene, and allow their residents to feel protected by the sloping Del Mar landscape. Conceptual renderings for 606 Zuni showcase the endless possibilities available for such a historic home, and were created by Jennifer Bolyn of La Jolla based architectural firm, EOS Architecture, Inc.
Life and Style in Del Mar
To fully appreciate the lifestyle offered by Del Mar, one must revisit the early days of the Del Mar Racetrack. Celebrities among the likes of Frank Sinatra would frequent San Diego as a summer retreat; a place to enjoy the surf, sun, and horse races. Horse racing was more than just a sport—the racetrack was a social venue and an outing for locals and visitors alike to see and be seen.
Whom do we owe for the glamorous history of Del Mar and the world-famous racetrack? Yet another big name of the past: Bing Crosby. With $100,000 in borrowed life insurance money and a handful of Hollywood friends as investors, Crosby opened the racetrack in 1937. Hollywood A-listers flocked to the track day and night, giving an air of luxury and style to the venue itself as well as the surrounding beachside community. The track earned national recognition during its second season when thoroughbreds Seabiscuit and Ligaroti stacked up in their famous “Match Race” in in 1938.
Present-Day Del Mar
The strong and lasting influence of the 30’s and 40’s can still be felt at present day during a visit to the Del Mar Racetrack. Today, a day at the track may begin with a mimosa from one Del Mar’s distinguished restaurants, and end with a fish taco or two at another. Many flock during and after the races to The Brigantine, a local establishment overlooking the track and lagoon, arguably presenting the best view of the racetrack in all of Del Mar. Here, they’ll celebrate their winnings or drown their sorrows after a busy day with friends spent enjoying the competition, scenery and fresh ocean air. In fact, the view is unparalleled—except for a handful of fortunate homeowners who reside on Via De La Valle, sharing the same spectacular view.
The fantasy to live like the affluent track-goers of the 30’s and 40’s is an easy reality in Del Mar. A luxurious new construction property is in the works at 107 Via De La Valle, just two lots East of The Brigantine restaurant. The home will have a spacious yard, one feature that none of the other homes in Boca Del Mar can claim. Revel in the views from The Brigantine, then enjoy those same views from your backyard. Taking the party home has never been easier. The new construction Del Mar home is scheduled for completion in Summer, 2017.
The options are plentiful for those looking to live, or vacation in Del Mar. With the newly added “Bing Crosby season” at the Del Mar Racetrack extending the race season into Fall, there are even more reasons to stay past summer.
“There is a smile on every face, and winner in each race, where the surf meets the turf in Del Mar.”
-Bing Crosby, Where The Surf Meets The Turf
Your Del Mar Lifestyle Concierge
Luxury real estate agent Jon Granston can answer any of your questions about the exclusive community around the Racetrack, including the many properties that are so entwined in the history of Del Mar. If you’d like a peek at life in Del Mar, or a day at the racetrack, check out Granston’s interview with famed horse trainer Bob Hess at the Del Mar Thoroughbred club.
From luxurious accommodations in Del Mar to luxury vacation rentals, from existing historical homes for sale to new construction, Granston truly is a local expert. We highly recommend checking in with him first, regardless of the length of your stay. Drop your contact information into the form below to connect with Jon Granston.