South Orange County Real Estate

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Every community needs a heart, a vital place to gather, to grow and
to celebrate the richness of its culture, history, and people. South
Orange County's historic treasure, Casa Romantica is that place. "
From Casa Romantica Website

See the web site for the
Casa Romantica:

This Casa Romantica villa, dating to about 1923, was falling apart...the city had taken it back due to the former
owner owing back payment, taxes, etc.. The ex-wife of Bandleader Fred Waring once lived here, too.

See album pics at:
History of San Clemente:

(In 1969, an event occurred which accelerated the growth and reputation
of San Clemente. In that year former President Nixon purchased a Spanish
mansion in the southern part of town that Hamilton Cotton had built in 1927.
This "Western White House" became the site of numerous historical meetings.
However, that home is in private hands now and has nothing to do with the Casa Romantica.)

The Casa Romantica home is very historic because it was
the home of Ole Hanson, the founder
of San Clemente circa early 1920s
and he is revered here, and was a former
Mayor of Seatle, and a very sharp dude
with incredible vision.

In 1927, Hanson built the Casa Romantica as his family home, and
expression of his version of the California dream. The seven-bedroom,
seven-bath house was designed by Carl Lindbom, who also designed
La Casa Pacifica (the former Western White House).

The villa sat vacant for years, crumbling.

Then, when some firm wanted to turn it into YET ANOTHER Mexican Restaurant,
concerned citizens in the city went nuts and said NO!

My good friend Mayor Emeritus and current city councilman,
Wayne Eggleston, plus a big bunch of others in the community
including minor roles played by my wife, Realtor Debbie Ferrari
and me, Marketing and Publicity Consultant, Bill Koelzer, got
busy. We went out and started raising money,
($1 million donated anonymously by someone, too) to start the refurbishing project.

Now the renovation is well underway after
many more citizen donations, with
more coming every day.

Wayne headed the Heritage Foundation of San Clemente which had a lot to
do with the preservation and renovation of the Villa as an historical home
and cultural center instead of being "Taco Romantica".

The Foundation STILL raises funds for the Casa as well as for the Marine
Monument project's maintenance at Park Semper Fi. Wayne was the architect
for that beautiful park and statue just down the cliff from Casa Romantica.

(Donate to the Marine Monument Project HERE)

I think that Casa Romantica is now earning good money for itself,
from its growing number of social events, weddings,
receptions, business and cultural meetings, etc. But a project
this big ALWAYS can use extra donated funds.

To donate to the non-profit Casa Romantica, get info HERE.

Jan McKay is the relatively new Executive Director and she is a very
bright, visionary and hard working director. Read a message from

Just goes to show what a community can do when
it WANTS to preserve something...too bad
we did not preserve Chet Divine's Hotel Divine and
turn it into a multi-level mall for my former
home town of portland, mich huh?

I guess the upper floors were deemed dangerous, but today
they'd likely be able to fix that, I suppose. They
tore the hotel down in 1975. So sad, such a pretty
red brick building with magnificent wood inside.

That might have SAVED or at least improved the Portland, Michigan
downtown much like Gaylord, Mich, Solvang, CA and Ferndale, CA improved
theirs, even becoming big tourist attractions because of their unique downtowns.

Or was our Portland, Mich. Hotel Divine and our fading downtown doomed anyway
due to things I have no idea about after I left town at age 27 in 1969?



View from back of casa romantica

Interior courtyard:

Perfect for lectures, seminars, etc. Many big mfg firms rent it for client/customer meetings

A look at the back of the casa, above the ocean:

A dozen rooms inside lend themselves to exhibits of all kinds, many national ones
from famous NYC or DC museums:

Cute little courtyards are everywhere:

There are many flying verandas overlooking the sea:

And even the surrounding grounds were improved:

See how the alcoves come off the main courtyard:

Perfect for presentations:

But it is just a shame that the Divine Hotel at the corner of Kent St., and Grand
River Avenue could not be saved...Of course, maybe it needed huge retrofitting
which no one, even the city, was willing to pay
for, but our Casa needed tons of it, and CITIZENS saved the Casa Romantica...
but of course it takes several citizens to LEAD the charge on a project like
this, and thank God that Wayne and several others did.

Now, the Casa brings many hundreds of thousands of extra
dollars to the community each year, and is considered a tourist attraction besides
being an official historical monument to California development.

I love stories like this.


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