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San Clemente Journal

Historic San Clemente Home Tour -October 14th

Sep 26, 2023 10:35AM ● By Don Kindred
by Christine Lampert, Architect, AIA, NCARB

The San Clemente Historical Society is once again hosting a tour of the Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture of San Clemente after several years.  San Clemente neighborhoods are scattered with historic Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture and the Historical Society tour of these is on October 14, 2023.


This is a rare opportunity to walk inside some of these historic buildings and to tour those neighborhoods.

San Clemente was a master planned community founded in the 1920s. and every building was required to be built in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. The town was called “The Spanish Village by the Sea”. There were most likely around 1,000 buildings in town in this style when the Great Depression put a halt to most new construction and the requirement for Spanish Colonial Revival Style Architecture was no longer enforced. 

Today there are only about 200 buildings remaining in San Clemente that have been designated as historic and most of them were built in the 1920s when the town was founded.  
On Saturday October 14 these neighborhoods and homes will be featured. The Historic Society of San Clemente is hosting this event which features historic buildings open to the public for that day and a walking tour of each neighborhood. 

One of the most well-known homes in town is the 7,200 square foot Casa Romantica which was built by one of the founders of San Clemente, Ole Hanson. It is now a cultural center owned by the City. The Casa Romantica has many traditional features. There is a ‘Courting Wall’ which was a common Spanish Colonial detail where the front wall within the enclosed courtyard has small holes that allow for two people to see each other and converse between the outside of the house and the courtyard. It was considered the best way to allow a daughter to visit with a young man. Another feature of this house are the arched French doors to the back terrace that disappear into the wall.  

 There are other buildings that are less well- known and this tour will give everyone an opportunity to see historic homes that they might have never been aware of. In addition, there will be docents to talk about the history of each building.  

Several of the properties are used as commercial buildings today, but were originally private homes. One of these is the historic Cabrillo Theater which was once the home of the first City Clerk and was built in 1928. 

Today, San Clemente has many new buildings built in the traditional Spanish Colonial Revival Style. One of these modern homes was built in 2007 but was designed in the original Spanish Colonial Style to honor the San Clemente tradition. It was designed by local architect Michael Luna who has designed many Spanish Colonial Style buildings.  This house features details that would have been found in original buildings including a round tower and a Morroccan style window that was very typical in 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival buildings. It also features exposed wood beam ceilings inside the house, another common detail.

Visitors can choose to walk or drive to each building. The tickets are available through the San Clemente Historical Society website at

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