Start Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2021   |   Time: 6:30 pm
Location Hosted on ZOOM.


This event has already happened. But you can watch the replay.

“The ‘Snakewall Property’ is one of the two features people ask us about the most,” says Del Mar Historical Society president Larry Brooks. So what is the story of this 22-acre walled estate that extends from the northern end of the Del Mar ridge eastward into the San Dieguito River Valley? Was the high concrete wall that surrounds the estate really built to keep snakes out, or for something else entirely? Who built it, why, and when? Join us as author Brier Miller Minor answers these questions and more.

Brier spent the idyllic Augusts of her childhood in the 1950s and ’60s inside, outside and on top of the wall that surrounds La Atalaya, the estate built in the 1930s by her grandfather, Coy Burnett — Nebraska farm boy turned west-coast corporate lawyer turned L. A. cement mogul.

In doing research for her book, Walking the Wall: Life Behind Del Mar’s “Snakewall,” Brier learned some fascinating Southern California history, including how the Los Angeles Aqueduct and Hoover Dam were built, how the Southern California style of architecture evolved, what Catalina Island was like in the 1930s, and how, for a single day in 1966, the little seaside village of Del Mar became Clarksville, of the Monkees “Last Train to Clarksville.”

She learned about the lifestyle of her well-to-do grandparents and their servants as La Atalaya persevered through the Great Depression, a devastating fire, and World War II. And she delved into what happened to the family, and the property, when that lifestyle could no longer be sustained.

Brier will also share with us what she’s learned about how to research family history, with tips about helpful online resources for filling in the gaps. With a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, she has passionately practiced and taught family therapy for nearly 40 years. “Writing my family’s story was a rewarding journey of remembering and discovery,” she says, “and a source of insight into how our early life shapes our patterns of communication and attachment.”

Attendees’ microphones and cameras were not activated during the webinar. Questions typed into the Q&A box during the program were answered at the end.

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