Article by Allison Garton:
It’s been six months since I watched a sunset from what remains of the Library at Villa Surf. In that time, I’ve moved 500 miles, taken a new job, purchased a house… and I often think of that special house and the magic it holds for me. I had the great fortune of spending a few hours with a former resident of Villa Surf and hearing tales of parties and music and laughter and acceptance and art and love and heartbroken loss. Thanks to Walter, we can share pictures of this beautiful spot; some of which he built himself! Walter is one special guy; brilliant, witty, creative, and an inventor of things I cannot pronounce… but he is infinitely humble in the memory of his dear friend, Dan Dixon, aka the God of the Party. The tales of revelry with a dash of debauchery confirmed the scandalous tales I had gleaned from other sources that would be ideally told on the big screen. Sadly, all I can offer up to you are words… and pictures!
There exists a scrapbook bursting with memories, photos, letters, and newspaper clippings,that documents this once-grand mansion and her surrounding residences above the sea from construction to demolition. The tight-knit group of residents loved their time there and it was quite evident that I had found my people, albeit about five decades too late. That scrapbook felt like home in my hands.
Dan’s Villa Surf was so anticipated, there was a party when the cornerstone was placed. Read closely and you’ll notice some prominent surnames from San Diego history.
The Library under construction; the cinder block steps still remain today:
Interior Library; this is the last building demolished by the City:
Interior Library, showcasing one of Walter’s inventions – concrete speakers dubbed a Ton-and-a-Quarter of Sound that graced the cover of January 1964’s Audio Magazine. Serious audiophiles will love the full article – http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Audio/60s/Audio-1964-01.pdf
Aerial shot of the compound, Library in left foreground, Big House on the right:
From the beach looking upward; Tap Room (which had nothing to do with beer!) is on the left:
Tap Room is on the lower left corner:
Want to go inside? OK!!!
On May 2, 1962, CORE leaders (Congress of Racial Equality, one of the pivotal groups involved in the Civil Rights Movement) were welcomed at Villa Surf when just one short year before, their buses were being bombed in Alabama. A year later, a march on Washington, D.C and change America forever. Overlooking the cliffs today is the same century plant in the background of this picture, a remnant of the once lush landscaping designed by Monk.
It’s sad that it came to this spiteful end spearheaded by a prominent former lover of Dan’s… it didn’t have to end like this, and destroying his house destroyed Dan’s heart.
Here, I must quote Walter: “Later in his life, Dan Dixon said that the biggest mistake of his life was selling Villa Surf. This eloquent observation was composed and typed in 1984 by Dan Dixon, and he pasted it onto the inside back cover of his scrapbook, The Villa Surf:”