History

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is located on 2.5 acres in the Ole Hanson home, a registered historic landmark and legacy of the founder of San Clemente. The building celebrates 90 years in 2017, while the cultural center is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Our story is simple: The founder of San Clemente, Ole Hanson, built this Spanish Colonial Revival home as his representation of the California dream in 1927, and patterned the development of the rest of the city after this property. Read more about the historic home and gardens here.

The property passed through many hands throughout the twentieth century, and was on the precipice of destruction when it was saved by a group of forward-thinking individuals who saw what Casa Romantica could become.

It was registered as a historic landmark, restored to its original beauty through a major capital campaign, and transformed into a cultural arts center as well as an architectural and botanical destination.

Nearly twenty years later, our vibrant institution programs nearly 100 multi-cultural events every year, hosts a variety of educational programs, maintains 2.5 acres of diversified water-wise coastal flora from all over the world, and welcomes over 35,000 visitors annually.

Historical Timeline

1925

H.H. Cotton, a financial tycoon, purchases 5,000 acres of land from the old Boca de la Playa Rancho and hires a developer, Ole Hanson, to plan a seaside city.

Ole Hanson begins selling residential lots in San Clemente, which he names after nearby San Clemente Island.

1926

The City of San Clemente, patterned as a "Spanish Village By The Sea," is developed with consistent Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

H.H. Cotton commissions architect Carl Lindbom to build a Spanish Colonial Revival mansion near the southern tip of San Clemente.

1927

Ole Hanson commissions architect Carl Lindbom to build his Spanish Colonial Revival dream home.

 

1934

The Great Depression hits, causing Ole Hanson to forfeit ownership of his San Clemente house to Bank of America.

1939

Bank of America leases Casa Romantica to Miramonte Club of Los Angeles for use as a private beach club.

1941

Neil and Lucy Rasmussen purchase the Ole Hanson estate for $10,000.

1946

The Schuyler family purchases the estate, which they name 'Casa Romantica.'

1952

Evelyn Waring, ex-wife of big band leader Fred Waring, purchases Casa Romantica.

1956

Arthur and Dorothy Whitehouse purchase Casa Romantica and rename it 'Casa Blanca.'

1959

George and Louise Welsh purchase Casa Romantica, rename it 'Casa Descansa,' and operate a retirement home onsite.

1984

The Welsh family leases the estate to Maureen Gates, and event planner, as a special event venue for weddings and other celebrations, the estate is called 'Casa Romantica' once more.

1989

Casa Romantica is sold to the Redevelopment Agency of San Clemente for $2.5 million.

1991

Casa Romantica is accepted into the National Registry of Historic Places.

1999

After years of deliberations about the proposed usage of the estate, an anonymous donor gifts $1 million to the city of San Clemente with the condition that it renovate Casa Romantica for use as a cultural arts institution.

2000

Casa Romantica is registered as a California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation.

2002

The newly-appointed Board of Trustees hosts a Capital Campaign to raise $4.8 million for the restoration of Casa Romantica.

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens hosts its first fundraising gala, Toast to the Casa. The cultural institution also hosts the first annual Artists of Tomorrow student art exhibition, featuring works by San Clemente High School and local middle school students, in conjunction with Arts Orange County’s annual "Imagination Celebration."

2004

Casa Romantica opens to the public full-time for events and daily tours of the home and gardens.

2006

The Amphitheater by the Sea is built on the north side of the property.

2010

The Discovery Gallery opens to the public with historical information about city founder Ole Hanson in a long-term exhibition loaned by the San Clemente Historical Society.

Casa Romantica hosts two major historical exhibitions: Nixon in San Clemente: The Western White House Years, and Memories of WWII.

2012

Casa Romantica hosts the 10th annual Toast to the Casa gala. The cultural institution also begins hosting an annual Mary Colby Tea fundraiser in honor of San Clemente resident Mary Colby, who donated a significant collection of antiques to Casa Romantica to support its youth arts education programs.

La Cristianita Monument is moved to Casa Romantica in respect for the first baptism of Native Americans in and near San Clemente.

2013-2014

Casa Romantica launches Casa Captivating programming, which brings international talent in visual art, music, performing arts, liberal arts, and literature to south Orange County. One of the season's first events is Casa Classic: Christchurch Cathedral Choir of Oxford University, a 50-piece choir from London, UK. Casa Romantica also expands its family programming with the first annual Casa Nutcracker, performed by the Orange County Ballet Theater.

Casa Romantica commissions its first original performing arts work; a dance commission by the Luminario Ballet of Los Angeles.

2014-2015

Casa Romantica commissions a site-specific adaptation of Shakespeare's play Hamlet, called Slings & Arrows: Hamlet Re-Imagined and performed by the Monkey Wrench Collective of Orange County. Notable Casa Captivating program guests include Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and Garrick Ohlsson, an internationally award-winning concert pianist.

Casa Romantica begins a three-year commitment to exhibit the nationally-recognized E. Gene Crain Collection of California watercolors.

Casa Romantica launches the First Annual Casa Romantica Music Festival and Academy, a free arts education summer intensive program for children. The cultural institution also launches its biannual Arts Management Internship program.

2015-2016

Casa Romantica launches the First Annual Summer Dance Workshop, its second free arts education intensive program for children. The cultural center also launches monthly Member Nights at the Casa for the benefit of all members. Notable Casa Captivating program guests include internationally-recognized celebrity photographer Douglas Kirkland, Ronald Reagan Presidential Speechwriter Kenneth Khachigian, and multi-platinum selling lyricist and singer Ann Hampton Callaway.

2016-2017

Casa Romantica launches a year-long art + horticulture initiative which culminates in the commissioned exhibition Casa Coastal: Rebecca Louise Law. The cultural institution welcomes a record number of visitors and national press.

Casa Romantica also commissions the critically-acclaimed Casa Kinetic: Contemporary Dance Collective, with site-specific performances by Helios Ballet Theater of Los Angeles, The Assembly Dance of Orange County, and the Orange County Ballet Theater.

Notable Casa Captivating program guests include Chapman University President Dr. James Doti, UCI Dean of the School of Law Prof. Erwin Chemerinsky, and 'Les Miserables' Broadway star Ivan Rutherford. Casa Romantica also honors its third and final year in a commitment to exhibit the nationally-recognized E. Gene Crain Collection of California watercolors.

Casa Romantica is named "Outstanding Arts Organization of 2017" by Arts Orange County.

PRESENT

ABOUT

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens
415 Avenida Granada
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 498-2139
info@casaromantica.org

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and is the historic home of the founder of the city of San Clemente. Casa Romantica provides programs for all ages in arts, music, history, horticulture, and literature and is a premier Southern California cultural center.

Copyright © Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens.
All rights reserved.

VISIT

Monday — Closed
Tuesday — 11 am – 4 pm
Wednesday — 11 am – 4 pm
Thursday — 11 am – 4 pm
Friday — 10 am – 2 pm
Saturday — 10 am – 2 pm
Sunday — 10 am – 2 pm

Casa Romantica is closed on President's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

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