Large family estates are notoriously private and personal. Foxhill, a mid-century log family mansion with sweeping ocean views above one of San Diego’s most revered communities, embodies both perfectly.
Its privacy stems from the hilltop location. Foxhill sits on 32 acres, making it the largest contiguous residential site in La Jolla. “Privacy abounds, and there’s no other property like this in San Diego,” said Andrew E. Nelson, CEO of Willis Allen Real Estate.
The staff is apparent in the French country-style design, inside and out. In the 1950s, when some high rollers opted for sleek, modern homes, the late James and Helen Copley, owners of the San Diego Union-Tribune and the San Diego Evening Tribune, went their own way. The Copleys brought in architect Roy Drew to channel the French countryside for what would become their eight-acre residence, completed in 1959.
It was a departure for Drew; He and Robert Mosher had created some of the most enduring modernist landmarks in the San Diego area, such as the Coronado Bridge and the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
For the Copleys, the sprawling, low-profile home with dormer windows and a modified mansard roof fulfilled their vision.
The next owners of the $55 million property will likely feel differently – and have several options to pursue.
The main house sits on 6.24 acres. Additional lots include a ready-to-build site of 1.68 acres; a 22.4 acre site, with a designated building area limited to 4 acres currently developed as a golf course; and an adjoining 1.77 acre parcel that can accommodate a new 10,000 square foot home. Each has gated entrances as well as ocean views.
Given this flexibility, new owners can choose to leave the estate as is, redesign it as a new multi-family complex by redoing the existing home or building on the three additional lots, or develop the lots and sell them each. .
“Alternatively, there is something about keeping Foxhill as a single estate that may appeal to the inland baron in the type of individual or family that can afford an asset like this,” said listing agent Tim Nelson. “Either way the person will enjoy La Jolla, appreciate the flexibility, privacy, views and space and have the perspective of the world to know what a phenomenal site it is.”
Those who enjoy the original French ambience will find manicured grounds with many gardens, including orchards and terraced vegetable gardens as well as wooded paths and a greenhouse. The property is gated with a security guard house and a 12 car garage which has guest accommodation above. The estate includes a swimming pool and staff quarters.
Inside, crystal chandeliers, hardwood floors and paneling, and murals in keeping with the house’s theme abound. Often a gathering place for notable types and other members of high society, dinners were held in the formal dining room, which features a hand-painted mural and fitted cabinets, or sometimes outdoors in the one of the gardens. Helen Copley greets President Richard Nixon at Foxhill.
Copley’s editorial empire began in 1928 when Ira Copley purchased the two newspapers. The business passed through the family to James, who died in 1973; then to his widow, Helen Copley. Helen started at the newspaper as a secretary before becoming owner-editor. She contributed millions of dollars to the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and funded a library at the University of San Diego. She lived in Foxhill until her death in 2004. Her son, David Copley, who entered the family business, inherited the property and lived in Foxhill until he suffered a fatal heart attack as he drove about a mile from his home in 2015. David Copley had no heirs and the property was put up for sale.
Enter Doug “Papa Doug” Manchester, who built some of the tallest buildings in San Diego and once owned the San Diego Union Tribune. He bought Foxhill and added a modern kitchen, racquetball court, pickle ball court and made other changes. The nearly 23,000 square foot home has grown to 10 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms.
Prior to the sale, an important question arose which could have significantly affected the fate of Foxhill: should the house be declared historic? The San Diego Historic Resources Council in 2015 voted against it. Foxhill failed to meet the standards of “French eclectic” design, a post-World War I American style that borrowed heavily from the charm of French country life, nor did it deserve the designation of being the workplace of the powerful business-minded and philanthropic Copleys. Most of their work was related to the Copley Library in La Jolla. The lack of historic designation means the property can be redeveloped.
The elegant hilltop estate at 7007 Country Club Drive, next to the La Jolla Country Club golf course, is a standout in La Jolla, known for its natural sea caves, 300-foot cliffs, and scenic beach of Windandsea. Market trends show that the average sale price in the community has increased to over $2.36 million from around $2.15 million just six months ago.
Listing agents are Drew and Tim Nelson of Willis Allen Real Estate.
Willis Allen Real Estate is a founding member of Forbes Global Propertiesa consumer marketplace and member network of elite brokerages selling the most luxurious homes in the world.