The History of San Clemente

San Clemente’s history starts in 1925 when a land developer named Ole Hanson purchased and started developing the land. He thought the area had a pleasant climate, great beaches, fertile soil, and could serve as a haven to Californians who were tired of the big city. He named the area San Clemente after San Clemente Island which had already been named back in 1602 by an explorer.

Ole Hanson envisioned San Clemente to have Spanish colonial architecture, featuring Spanish red tile roofs and cream stucco walls. Along with building several homes, he also built the San Clemente Pier, the Beach Club, the Community Center, and Max Berg Park. He decided to build his very own dream home, called Casa Romantica, which he lived in for several years. San Clemente then became incorporated as a city in 1928.

In 1969, President Richard Nixon purchased part of the H.H. Cotton Estate, which was to be used as his vacation home and was nicknamed the “Western White House”.

Throughout the years, several homes and buildings have been deemed historic, and as the city grows and older areas are revitalized, the city has done an amazing job to preserve that Spanish colonial architecture that Ole Hanson fell in love with. Ole Hanson’s dream home, Casa Romantica, is now owned by the city and is open to the public for self-guided tours, and for private events.

Today, you can also find several of the homes that Ole Hanson built in the southwest area of San Clemente. San Clemente’s history is just one of the things that makes San Clemente so unique.

-Kira Brown, “Beach Living Made A Breeze!”


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