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“To preserve and promote the heritage of San Clemente.”
“To present the Society's views to the appropriate governmental agencies regarding proposed major developments and legislative actions affecting our historical environment.”
"Forward with the Dream"
The San Clemente Historical Society was founded in 1973 to preserve the heritage of San Clemente. Before the Historical Society was formed, the community had lost some 300 of its 500 original structures, an average of one per month for 25 years! Since its inception, the volunteers of the Society have worked hard to save our community's physical history. WE HAVE NOT LOST A SINGLE MAJOR HISTORIC STRUCTURE since we were founded 36 years ago! We have worked hard to keep the wrecking ball away from Casa Romantica, the Ole Hanson Beach Club, the Beachcomber Motel, Seacliffs Villa, the Miramar Theater, and many other historic resources. Some of these we have saved more than once.
Which brings us to the historic Casino San Clemente , recently known as Sebastian's West. Built in 1937, it is an icon of North Beach and an official City Historic Landmark. Several years ago, the building was purchased by a developer who proposed to demolish some 60% of the historical resource and move its remnants to a corner of the parcel to make way for new condos. Under increasing pressure from the community, the developer floated an idea to demolish 60% of the structure, but not move the remnants.
The Historical Society adopted a policy that opposed any demolition, even partial, and opposed any relocation of any part of the Casino building. The Society's policy calls for the preservation of the historical resource and its continued adaptive reuse. The Society opposed demolition of the building in letters, news articles, letters to the editor, special editorials, creative graphics, meetings, community events, speeches and PowerPoint presentations before the public, the Planning Commission's design review subcommittee, the Planning Commission itself and the City Council.
After the City lamely attempted to declare that the developer's project did not require an Environmental Impact Report (a "Negative Declaration") the Society demanded that an EIR be prepared, won that argument, and attended the EIR Scoping Committee Meeting en masse. Numerous letters, speeches and presentations drove home the Society's point to the City and to the developer that the California Environmental Quality Act prohibits approval of the demolition project. The developer and City government learned (again) that historical preservation is one of the core values of the community.
The developer abandoned plans to demolish the building, and turned over ownership to a new owner, Lab Holdings LLC.
Miramar Theater –The last owner applied for a demolition permit to demolish the theater. Thousands of signatures were received to “To Save the Miramar” and signs were placed on front yards with signs stating “Save the Miramar”. Signatures and signs continue to this day. The Historical Society does not promote any business plan, but asks that the property be adaptively reused.
The new owner of the property has removed the demolition permit from the city. He says he wants to restore the theater. No business plan has been produced for the theater at this time, so the Historical Society is cautiously continuing their preservation efforts.
Sea Cliff Villas (Robison House) – The Sea Cliff Villas and famous gardens are still in danger of development. Its owners tried to get approval for seven new condos but were finally defeated by the Coastal Commission who denied their application. The owners are in the process of selling the property to another owner whose plans we have not heard yet. Stay tuned.
Beachcomber Motel – In 2006, the Beachcomber Motel owner applied to demolish the historic building to construct a huge hotel in its place. The City staff recommended denial to the Planning Commission who voted to deny it. The application has been postponed so that the developer can modify his plans to please the City Council. No other plans have come forward. Stay tuned.
Doheny House - 35101 Camino Capistrano, Dana Point
Landmarks Task Force Approval
After two years of research and public hearings by its Landmarks Task Force, the recommendations of its historical consultant (Historical Resources Group) and its Planning Commission, the San Clemente City Council approved the long awaited City Landmarks Ordinance.
The new ordinance:
The new ordinance celebrates the most iconic of the City's historic structures, enhances and encourages historical preservation, and does not burden historic property owners, nor their neighbors, with any new restrictions.
List of official San Clemente Landmarks
304 Avenida Cabrillo, L.S. Frasier House, 1938
2. Avenida del las Palmeras, Cotton Estate Gate, 1928
3. 114 Avenida Del Mar, Hotel San Clemente, 1927
415 Avenida Granada , Casa Romantica, 1928
233 Avenida la Cuesta, Campbell House, 1941
243 Avenida la Cuesta, Goldschmidt House, 1928
105 W. Avenida Pico, Ole Hanson Beach Club, 1927
140 W. Avenida Pico, Casino San Clemente , 1936
611 Avenida Victoria , Municipal Pier, 1928
4100 Calle Isabella, Casa Pacifica (Cotton Estate) 1926
100 No. Calle Seville, Community Center (Ole Hanson Room and Site) 1927
412 Cazador Lane , Warner House, 1929
100 S. El Camino Real, Bartlett Building , 1926
101 S. El Camino Real, Easley Building , 1929
104-118 N. El Camino Real, Administration Building , 1926
1426 N. El Camino Real, San Onofre Inn, 1928
408 N. El Camino Real, Old City Hall , 1928
1209 Buena Vista , Moulton House, 1929
418 Cazador Lane , 1926
420 Cazador Lane , Ann Harding House, 1926
230 W. Marquita, Swigart House, 1929
202 Avenida Aragon, St. Clement's Church, 1930
Proposed by Historical Resources Group, Landmarks Task Force, and Planning Commission but NOT YET APPROVED by City Council as Landmarks as of October 2, 2007:
1. 1700 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente Theater, 1937 – Miramar Theater.
2. 529-533 Avenida Victoria , Beachcomber Motel, 1947
3. 402-404 Pasadena Court , Sea Cliff Villas (Robison House), 1927
All photos are the Copyright © 2009 San Clemente Historical Society, All rights reserved.