Casa Romantica is a hidden gem perched on a cliff overlooking the San Clemente Pier in South Orange County. This historic home was built in 1927 by the City of San Clemente, Ole Hanson. The 5-Acre Casa Romantica estate was one of the first buildings in the new Spanish Village By The Sea.
In 1925, Hanson was hired by financial tycoon H.H. Cotton to develop a 2,000-acre tract in southern Orange County, California. Hanson named the new city after the nearby San Clemente Island. All residential lots sold in the new city had a clause to the deeds requiring that the town’s signature red tile roofs with any design.
Along with his estate overlooking the pier, Hansen built several other public buildings still in use today. The Ole Hansen Beach Club is situated adjacent to San Clemente’s North Beach and is used as a wedding and event venue. The San Clemente Community Center is another example of Ole Hansen Spanish Colonial Revival-style buildings.
Ole Hansen only lived in his dream home for a few years. The Great Depression all but halted lot sales in the new town. In 1934 ownership was forfeited to a bank. Over the years, the estate was used as a beach club, private residence, retirement home, and wedding site. In 1989 the San Clemente Redevelopment Agency purchased the property. Today Casa Romantica is a museum, cultural center, and a wonderful example of Ole Hansen’s Spanish Village by the Sea.
Casa Romantica Self-Guided Tours
A modest entrance fee is required to visit Casa Romantica, and it’s worth every penny. You know Casa Romantica is truly a special place from the moment you enter the courtyard through the handmade wood door. Unique tiles cover the courtyard walkways, and archways lead off into the various rooms of the estate.
Highlights of the tour include the main room & solarium, the octagonal room, dining room, and the million-dollar view Ocean Terrace. The walls are covered with pictures and information about the early days of San Clemente, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Los Angeles. The octagonal room was used as Ole Hanson’s Office and had the best view of the estate.
The main Salon was used as the living room and features a fountain, crystal chandelier, and a high ceiling with massive redwood beams. Visitors can also view Nellie Hanson’s bedroom and bathroom and the discovery gallery, a two-bedroom wing that features exhibits about the historic home. There is also a small gift shop near the front entrance.
Casa Romantica Gardens
The gardens surrounding the estate are just as beautiful as the house. They include the bluff top garden, native American garden, butterfly garden, herb garden, and cactus & succulent gardens. The Ocean Terrace, originally a lawn with a small tile patio, is now covered with cement and features one of the best views in San Clemente. The gardens also feature a small amphitheater terrace.
Casino San Clemente
Although not built by Hansen, Casino San Clemente is another fine example of his Spanish Village By The Sea vision. Built in 1937, Casino San Clemente featured big band sounds, dancing, and live radio broadcasts. Over the years, the Casino has been used as a coast guard station, Moose Lodge, and dinner theatre. Today the restored building is used for events and weddings. 140 West Avenida Pico, San Clemente. Website.
Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens are located at 415 Avenida Granada. Open to the public Tuesday through Sunday. Website. San Clemente Community Center is located at 100 N Calle Seville. Ole Hansen Beach Club is located at 105 Avenida Pico, San Clemente.