Historic San Clemente: Enchanting Village by the Sea

May 31, 2019

Small wonder San Clemente in coastal Southern California is beloved by so many, by residents of our new Sea Summit neighborhoods as well as by the community at large and visitors. Fresh ocean breezes, pristine beaches and a flair that early on in its history inspired the moniker “The Spanish Village by the Sea.” Founded by a forward-thinking man, Ole Hanson, in 1925, historic San Clemente continues to reflects Hanson’s vision of Spanish charm and romance, with many homes and buildings still featuring white-washed stucco walls and warm red tile roofs. Decades later, the town proudly maintains Hanson’s vision of paradise on the coast.

San Clemente Historical Society

Founded in 1973, the San Clemente Historical Society was created to preserve the town’s historic feel. Early on, the concern was the demolition of historic buildings that was happening. This group of concerned citizens work to save prominent mansions, including Ole Hanson’s home, located on bluffs overlooking the ocean.

Casa Romantica

Casa Romantica was built as founder Ole Hanson’s personal residence, and completed in 1928. Today it is the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens. The beautiful home was designed with characteristics of Spanish Colonial-revival architecture, which Hanson required of all homes built there at the time. Visitors also enjoy the many gardens and landscaping, which evolved from Hanson’s original plantings.

La Casa Pacifica

Another favorite in the beach town is La Casa Pacifica. Like Casa Romantica, La Casa Pacifica sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The home was once owned by President Richard Nixon and is still known as Nixon’s Western White House. Built in 1926 for one of the founding financiers of San Clemente, Hamilton H. Cotton, the home was modeled after a home in San Sebastian, Spain. Nixon and wife his wife Patricia bought the home in 1965 and sold it in the late 1980s.

San Clemente Pier

The original pier was built in 1928 as a municipal fishing and pleasure pier. Because of storm damage the structure had to be rebuilt in 1939 and 1983. It remains a highlight for visitors. Besides free fishing, an indoor/outdoor restaurant with views is considered among the best on the California coast. Whale watching from the wooden pier is a popular pastime during migration season.

St. Clement’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

Completed in 1930, St. Clement’s held its first service that year with 200 congregates and has continued with services uninterrupted. In 1961 it was designated a parish and became a Historical Landmark #1 in 1981 by the San Clemente Historical Society. Town founder Ole Hanson gifted two lots on which to build the church.

Downtown San Clemente

A charming collection of boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and businesses, Downtown San Clemente’s blend of eclectic shops and quaint historic buildings make it an appealing backdrop for shopping, dining and special community events, from art fairs to car shows.

San Clemente Municipal Golf Course

Named Best Value in Orange County in 2008, San Clemente Municipal Golf Club has been a local favorite for 75 years. The 18-hole championship course features ocean views from several holes and scenic rolling hills throughout. The golf course has a relaxed feel that visitors love.

Ole Hanson Beach Club

Ole Hanson Beach Club was designed by on of Ole Hanson’s favorite architects in 1927 and construction was completed in 1928. The Beach Club featured what was marketed as an Olympic-sized pool; turns out it’s not quite long enough. Still it was used for 1932 Olympic Games tryouts with famous champions Johnny Weismuller, Buster Crabbe, Dutch Smith and Duke Kahanamoku. The facility was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 and rehabilitated in 2012.

Get to Know Historic San Clemente

Become a Spanish Village by the Sea resident in beautiful Sea Summit, where limited opportunities remain. Visit Sea Summit and learn more about availability in its four neighborhoods. The spacious, distinctive homes are inspired by Mediterranean styling. Live here and get to know the enchanting and historic town of San Clemente.

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