by Don Kindred
I love history, it’s a natural fascination. I respect people who step up to save a landmark, rather than step in to tear one down. Our entire city rose to the occasion to save, restore and fund Casa Romantica ... and it is right that we did. It was our founder’s home. It was the vision of the visionary. Where the man who painted the blank canvas of our city chose to color his
personal space. And he did so magnificently. Ole Hanson captured a piece of time and a sense of place that allows us a glimpse into the grandeur and the promise of San Clemente in the 1920s, that we can still feel today.
And now we have the Casino San Clemente, almost complete. A landmark of a different time. The bold architecture was the glimpse of a different era, the late 1930s. It was a time when we stopped the decline in our population and started to grow again. It was time for the Bank of America to invest again … time to eat cake. Like the Casa, the Casino would be something unique, designed as a statement for the community. It wasn’t a club that played records, or a theatre where you would watch movie stars on a flat silver screen. It was where you saw them live, where they saw you. It heralded a time when it was OK to dance again, to show ourselves to the world again. When Judy Garland took the mic in ‘39 and sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow” at the Casino ... we were there. The Casino wasn’t a copy it was a one-of-a-kind. It was just the marketing tool that would push San Clemente out of the depression and back on the map of “the happening.” Big band sounds, broadcast to radios across the country from a remote Spanish Village of 400 people, from a magic dome in a romantic bay of a Pacific shore.
Yeah, we need to save those memories. Nothing lasts forever.
As time takes all things ... the Casino, too, fell to neglect. Eight decades later it ended up
misused as an office building and dropped into bankruptcy after yet another economic downturn. But this time only two people came forward to save the aging community treasure.
Fortunately, they were two special people. Shaheen and Linda Sedeghi have invested their time, ideas, funds and indomitable energy into resurrecting the marquee dance hall and reinventing it as a special events center. We are now allowed the occasional turn inside the walls, where the Sedeghi’s have celebrated the landmark’s history and refurbished it inside and out, back into the star-worthy venue that it deserves to be.
Their latest addition has been to add a unique breakfast and lunch café called “Ellie’s Table.”
It is run by Orange County’s largest catering company on the ocean side of the property, blending comfortably into the growing North Beach business community.
On the 20th of February, the Sedeghi’s will be receiving the Business-of-the-Year Award for their efforts at the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting & Installation Dinner. The award is the small, but well-deserved token of a grateful community, thankful for their commitment to preserving a landmark and saving history.
It’s a beautiful thing when a piece of our past becomes a part of our future.