Avalon Ventures’ Kevin Kinsella Remakes Private Copley Library in La Jolla
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California and the Southwest, as well as literary works by Mark Twain and other authors. A second-floor storage vault was designed to maintain a constant temperature of 60 degrees to preserve the historic documents, rare books, and other sensitive research materials.
But the vault could not protect the Copley Press from the Internet, which undermined the enormous profitability of the newspaper business by siphoning off classified advertising, job notices, and other types of advertising. Helen Copley’s son, David, began selling the company’s Illinois newspapers after she died in 2004, and he put the San Diego Union-Tribune up for sale in 2008. The Copley collection, with an estimated value of more than $15 million, was also put up for sale through a series of auctions organized over the past year by Sotheby’s.
Kinsella’s interests in collecting run in a different direction. He has lifelong ties to show business (his father Walter Kinsella was a career actor on Broadway, radio television, and film) and he plans to fill at least one room of the library with his Jersey Boys memorabilia. As I reported in 2008, the musical tells the story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Kinsella and his wife Tamara became the show’s biggest investors when the musical opened at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2004, and helped move the show to Broadway’s August Wilson Theater, where it won four 2006 Tony Awards. They also took an interest in producing the Grammy-winning CD for the musical, Jersey Boys: Original Broadway Cast Recording, which went platinum (more than 1 million copies sold) about six months ago.
“It’s going to be great for the community,” Kinsella told us. “There’s a full theater in the basement [that showcases a 103-inch Panasonic flat-panel TV screen], and we’re starting to have events here. Five years of Jersey Boys memorabilia will be open to the public by appointment.”
Kinsella, who sits on the board of trustees at the San Diego Museum of Art, also has a sizable personal collection of California plein aire paintings (impressionist landscapes painted by artists in the “open air”) from 1900 to 1950, and an eclectic assortment of other artwork on display.
In buying the Copley Library and continuing to operate it as a private library, Kinsella has almost certainly rescued the building from becoming another Southern California condo conversion. When the place was advertised by Prudential Realty late last year, the listing touted the building as a “unique village property…rare…built and used as a library—it could be converted to a spectacular, in-town, single family residence or split into two or more condominiums…”
Kinsella says if he hadn’t bought it, “A developer probably would have bought it and would have gutted the building.”