Own a piece of history: Revelle home on market for $14M

Oh if these walls could talk. Just think about the conversations you might have heard in the oceanfront home of La Jolla native Ellen Clark Revelle and UCSD founder Roger Revelle that is on the market for $14 million.

The Revelles’ guests through the years included Jonas Salk, Nobel Prize winners being recruited to the new UCSD faculty, Eleanor Roosevelt and soloists in La Jolla for the annual La Jolla Music Society Summerfest.

Linda Marrone of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in La Jolla, who has the listing on the 4,165-square-foot Vista Del Mar home once known as Casa del Lido (House on the Beach), talked last week about its heritage.

The five-bedroom, four-bath home — with its front-yard swimming pool and fishpond surrounded by lush landscaping, a spectacular deck and second-floor patio next to the peaceful Whispering Sands Beach — has been in the Scripps family since it was built in 1922 by Rex B. and Grace Scripps Clark. She was the daughter of the founder of the Detroit Evening News and niece of La Jolla philanthropists Ellen Browning Scripps and Eliza Virginia Scripps.

In 1940, Grace Clark deeded the home to her daughter Ellen and her husband Roger, who moved there permanently in 1947.

The couple raised four children at the home, over the years remodeling it to their liking.

“She liked it more contemporary, so she changed it from the ‘40s to the ‘60s,” Marrone noted.

Roger Revelle, who was a director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a science adviser to the Kennedy Administration, was one of the first scientists to draw attention to the impacts of rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide due to climate change.

Ellen, who died in 2009 at age 98, was born in La Jolla and spent summers here before moving to La Jolla after marrying Roger. A generous supporter of the arts and La Jolla Historical Society, she continued the family’s publishing legacy when she became publisher of the San Diego Daily Transcript in 1993.

For her husband’s birthday in 1959, she put together an exhaustive scrapbook with historic photos of the beachfront home at the foot of Marine Street as well as drawings and details about the changes they made.

Designed by Pasadena architect Fitch Haskell in Spanish Revival Eclectic style, the home was expanded and changed to reflect more of a ‘40s style. The light-filled spaces are surrounded on the north by a cutting garden full of red, orange, yellow and coral flowers that Ellen used to adorn the home. Above the two-car garage sits a one-bedroom guesthouse facing the front garden, and below the kitchen is a wine cellar.

To the south is a “pacing garden” where Roger would go so that he wouldn’t distract her, Marrone said.

“He drove her crazy with his pacing all over the house, so she had it added,” she said.

The home is rich midcentury style, with a den and breakfast nook that was converted to an office, a kitchen ready to be turned into an entertainment center with views to the ocean and a master suite where one wakes up to sights and sounds of the Pacific.

Later this month, the family will reunite there to remember Ellen on what would have been her 100th birthday.

Marketing efforts key in on Roger Revelle’s reputation, with help from a Los Angeles firm that’s putting the word out on its availability to people who knew the Revelles or supported his ideas on climate change — from the likes of Al Gore to Leonardo DiCaprio, Marrone said.

While the house is not historical in terms of its architecture because of the modifications that have been made, she said it could potentially qualify for historical designation because of who lived there.

Marrone, who lives nearby, said she anticipates a buyer will undoubtedly update the home, perhaps expanding towards the street if they want more space — because the footprint to the ocean side is limited. But she said she in some ways hopes that someone who respects the Revelles’ and Scripps’ heritage might preserve it.

Either way, she said, they will acquire a home that is rich in La Jolla heritage and one that occupies a spectacular spot on the coast.

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