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Fred Swegles

By Fred Swegles

From 1980-1994, some eye-popping ideas were floated to try to save San Clemente’s landmark from demolition/development.

Imagine if you visited Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, finding the historical landmark superbly preserved but at what cost? Development all around it. Here is a 1980 concept that fell through.

Above are three 1990 sketches by a firm the city recruited. The firm withdrew, after public backlash.

A jaw-dropping 1992 hotel idea to save the Casa. (Yikes!)

A more modest version that followed. (Um, no.)

And with the Casa circled, here was a 1994 no-go.

Ultimately, the city and a foundation restored the Casa without compromise.

Fred Swegles grew up in San Clemente before the freeway. He has 50 years’ reporting experience in the city and can be reached at fswegles@picketfencemedia.com.

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