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Del Mar Castle
Del Mar Castle

Tony Robbins Estate in Del Mar

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"Yes, your home is your castle, but it is also your identity and your possibility to be open to others."-
- David Soul -

The term "castle" generally refers to those fortress-like structures constructed back in the Middle Ages and Renaissance mostly in Europe and Britain. Walt Disney built his castle at Disneyland. Folks in Hollywood try to build their own castles up in the hills of Beverly.

Castles have an allure. Usually, we find castles high on a hill capturing expansive views. They tend to have big walls that keep unwanted people out and keep residents protected from the riff- raff of everyday life.

In 1926, if you dialed "O" for operator and asked for Del Mar 1, you'd be calling a famous castle in San Diego and the first house with the first telephone in Del Mar. Yes, it is high on the hill. Yes, it has great views. Yes, it has walls. The Del Mar Castle was built in 1926 by renowned architect Richard Requa.

Richard Requa designed many well-known San Diego properties in that classic "Spanish Revival" that can be seen throughout San Diego and in more concentration in the community of Kensington. It was Requa who served as Director of Architecture for the 1935 Exposition in Balboa Park. "Spanish Revival" is characterized by structures with a tiled roof, porches, balconies, wrought-iron elements, arched doors and windows, and complete charm. Yes, we're both suckers for "Spanish Revival style" architecture.

The castle is known to many. It's been around long enough that it has caught the attention of many a-San Diegan, but not all. The truth is that the castle doesn't have searchlights and doesn't seek attention. It has received plenty of attention because of one of its famous residents. Self-motivation guru Anthony "Tony" Robbins owned the castle from 1984-1988. Robbins, as his star was ascending, moved from his low-rent apartment in the Los Angeles area to the house he had visualized owning. He bought the property from notable San Diego resident, lawyer and businessman Sandy Shapery. You'd be surprised to know that Robbins bought the property with an installment plan. He paid around $1.7 million for the property.

Some of us dream of castles in the air. Robbins dreamt it and made it happen for himself on earth. At the point of selling the house in 1988, Robbins was asking $2.5 million to $3.4 million for the castle.

That's enough about Anthony Robbins. After all, he hasn't been around as long as the Del Mar Castle. We'd even go to the wall by saying that the castle probably has more character and staying power then any new-age guru regardless of their reputation.

Del Mar Castle
Del Mar Castle

As the story goes, the castle was built in 1926 for somewhere between $150,000 and $300,000. There's been some fuzzy math on that over the years. This 7,300-square foot structure was built with a castle in mind. It has carved entry doors and two-foot-thick walls. Two-foot thick. Imagine getting walls like that today, huh? Don't bet on it. The house was big with five bedrooms and six baths, six fireplaces, a large living room with double-vaulted ceilings, a balcony, a large formal dining room, pools, terraces, fountains, a spiral staircase (of course) and the pièce de résistance, a turret that provides a 360-degree panoramic view. Over the years, who knows what changes or additions have been made. Clearly, one house is not enough. There were, originally, two additional houses for both staff and guests. You can still spot them on the property.

You can cheat and get a look at the back of the Del Mar Castle from the I-5 freeway looking to the west just south of Via de la Valle off ramp. Look across the lagoon and up on the hill. But, where's the fun in that? It becomes an adventure when you wind your way up and around the hills of Del Mar and get a good look from street-level.

For over eighty-two years, the Del Mar Castle has kept watch over Del Mar. Castle residents have come and gone, but the mystique of the house has lived on. With the posh L'Auberge Hotel down below on Camino Del Mar (or Coast Highway), the Del Mar Castle is an understated throwback to the glamour days of the past. It doesn't need glitz and glam, drawbridges or moats, or even military garrisons. It has locked in and protected a place and time in American history. The surrounding walls have kept out the sea of change and preserved this beautiful example of "Spanish Revival" architecture.

Del Mar Castle
544 Avenida Primavera

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