Apr 13, 2023
Brier Minor, Author
Walking the Wall: Life Behind Del Mar's "Snakewall"


Walking the Wall is the fascinating story of Del Mar's iconic walled estate, La Atalaya, better known today as the "Snakewall Property." Well researched and written in a comfortable and colorful style, Brier Miller Minor's book covers three generations of Burnetts, the well-to-do family that built the estate they called La Atalaya, and then migrated back and forth between the hubbub of Los Angeles and tranquility of Del Mar for nearly half a century. La Atalaya was built in the Roaring Twenties; struggled through the Great Depression, a devastating fire and World War II; and was lost to the family with the death in 1971 of the patriarch, the author's grandfather, cement mogul Coy Burnett.

And yes, Minor pieces together the puzzle of how the name "Snakewall" came to be.

Later chapters include the convoluted years of the next owner's tenure and the restoration of this magnificent property by its present owners. And in her brief "Afterword" Minor, recently retired after a rewarding career practicing and teaching Marriage and Family Therapy, looks back on her own childhood summers in Del Mar. Recalling hours spent observing the grown-ups and walking La Atalaya's wall with her siblings and cousins, she considers the role of walls, both physical and figurative, in all our lives.

Beyond its obvious attraction for anyone with ties to Del Mar, this book will also appeal to those interested in Southern California history, or in the family dynamics of wealth, through good times and bad.