Search
Close this search box.

Walter Munk house in La Jolla deemed historic

The city of San Diego’s Historical Resources Board unanimously approved the historic resource designation of the “Dr. Walter and Judith Munk Seiche House” in La Jolla.

The home at 9530 La Jolla Shores Drive belonged to late oceanographer Walter Munk, who worked as a geophysicist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego on groundbreaking observations of waves, ocean temperature, tidal energy and more, and his second wife, Judith Munk, an artist and architectural designer. 

Their home, called Seiche (a standing wave oscillating in a body of water), was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 2021, following an action by the California State Historical Resources Commission.

After Walter Munk’s death, UC San Diego obtained the property per Munk’s request and then sold it to the Scott Family in 2022. 

“This is a very important home to us personally,” Tim Scott said at the Oct 26 HRB meeting. “We had significant relationships with Dr. Munk and Judith; They were at our wedding 30 years ago.” 

The Scott Family sought local historic designation, with city staff agreeing the property is historically significant, said city assistant planner Alvin Lin.

Seiche qualifies under HRB Criterion E, which states a property is eligible if it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places “or is listed or has been determined eligible by the State Historical Preservation Office for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources.”

The home itself is a single-family residence with additions, a guest house, design landscape and a pool.

The property and landscape were designed by Judith Munk, and the house was designed by both Walter and Judith, who lived there from its construction in 1953 until Judith’s death in 2006 and Walter’s in 2019.

The landscape is defined “as the vernacular, cultural landscape,” Lin said, adding there were eight sculptures by Judith, though six have since been removed as part of inheritances following the national historic registration.  

“Even accounting for the removed items,” Lin said, “extant features … continue to exhibit … significance and retain integrity” as they relate to historic criteria.”

And Seiche is where Walter wrote the majority of his more than 275 academic papers and served as a meeting place where students, visiting intellectuals, artists and scientists convened, which add to its historicity, according to application documents and HRB board member comments at the meeting. 

La Jolla resident Diane Kane spoke on behalf of the La Jolla Historical Society, saying the organization is “strongly in support of this nomination.” 

Only one written comment submitted to HRB from the public opposed the historic designation; the commenter did not elaborate further.

“I have been to that place many, many times,” said HRB member Li-Rong Lilly Cheng. “This is a pride of San Diego, of La Jolla, and I strongly recommend it.” 

Seiche “has great significance to us personally but also to the community,” Scott said. “We’re very thankful for this designation.”

Take a tour of the Munk House
Play Video
Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

Recommended Posts

Follow & Subscribe

Enjoying our content?

Your contribution helps support our small local team of journalists in continuing to bring you quality content and news about La Jolla.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive updates directly to your inbox

Most Popular

Search

What's new in La Jolla?

Stay connected with regular updates on all things La Jolla, CA

Join your fellow La Jolla enthusiasts and get the latest local news stories, exciting events, inspiring roundups for the top things to do, the best eats in town, new businesses, plus exclusive subscriber only deals.