La Jolla Mushroom House

Fun Friday – The La Jolla Mushroom House

We need some entertainment after seeing tons of dropped ceilings and peeling laminate floors, so Old Houses Under Under $50k introduced Fun Friday a while back. It is a collection of weird structures, usually NOT for sale, simply of interest.  Today we feature the abandoned La Jolla Mushroom House.


The Bell Pavillion (also known as the Mushroom House) was designed and built in 1968 (before the Coastal Commission) by Dale Naegle for Sam Bell, heir of General Mills Bell’s Potato Chips.  Bell had purchased a summer home high above the Pacific Ocean on La Jolla Farms Road that had unsurpassed views of the ocean and coastline. The property had a 300-foot rocky cliff, below which was a small, sandy beach only accessible at low tides from the south over rugged, slippery rocks.


Architect Dale Naegle


When Bell decided he wanted to build a guest house with access to the beach, he formed a team to come up with a design and build his challenging plan. Bell hired Elevator Electric Company, designer and builder of the first glass elevator in San Diego. They constructed a 300-foot tramway down to the beach. It was not without its problems, however. Due to the treacherous nature of the project, several workmen walked off the job, requiring the installation of the last 100 feet of the tramway railing to be completed by the three owners of the tram company.

After the tramway was completed, allowing materials to be brought down to Black’s Beach, the mushroom shaped guest house was built. Dale Nagle came up with his design so that the house could withstand the destructive forces of nature, such as winds, tidal waves, earthquakes, etc. It was named the Bell Pavillion, but is better known as the La Jolla Mushroom House, the name surfers gave it.

The only destructive forces, however, to do battle with the Mushroom House have been graffiti artists who have desecrated the now abandoned guest house. Adam Grofcsik, who runs on Black Beach, was hoping to form a group to clean up the graffiti on the Mushroom, which is now owned by an unidentified San Diego-based philanthropist.


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