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Tom Marshall
Tom Marshall

By Tom Marshall

The mission of the San Clemente Historical Society is to preserve our town’s history, of course. We advocate for the preservation of our city’s unique vibe by keeping and restoring our many historic structures.

We also celebrate the people and events that have defined this Spanish village by the sea. There are many ways of doing this, some not so obvious.

Take a stroll down Avenida Del Mar, and you will notice several rest areas where you can sit on a bench and watch the hustle and bustle of present-day San Clemente. But, if you look closely at the rest areas themselves, you’ll notice some amazing works of art on the walls and floors.

More than a decade ago, Mike Cotter and the Historical Society board of directors began an ambitious program to beautify Del Mar with tiles depicting scenes from San Clemente’s past. The first phase of the project is finally complete. The rest stations on both sides of the 100 block now sport eight historic images. They include period scenes of The Bartow House, The Beach Club, Casino San Clemente, Marquita House, Ole Hanson’s Office building, San Clemente Hotel, San Clemente Theater and St. Clement’s by-the-Sea.

Tiles of historical renditions can be found along Avenida Del Mar in San Clemente. Photo: Courtesy of Tom Marshall
Tiles of historical renditions can be found along Avenida Del Mar in San Clemente. Photo: Courtesy of Tom Marshall

Thanks to the generous contributions of local benefactors and support from the city of San Clemente and the Downtown Business Association’s Michael Kaupp, the tiles have been installed by tile master Michael King. The artwork is from watercolors by renowned artist Jay Fisher.

Now the 200 block of Del Mar is ready for beautification. Four more scenes will be added to the rest areas depicting the Beachcomber Motel, Easley Building and Robison House. The fourth scene, the Goldschmidt House, has already been sponsored by its former owners, Lee and Dena Van Slyke.

Finally, there will be two scenes, Casa Romantica and Casa Pacifica, placed on the corners of Del Mar and Ola Vista. So there are five more tax-deductible sponsorship opportunities available. Lee Van Slyke has agreed to lead round two of this project. Contact him at

In addition, a limited number of signed prints of Fisher’s original watercolor depictions will soon be available through the Historical Society. Bring a piece of local history into your own home or office.

Tom Marshall is a member of the San Clemente Historical Society and retired journalist.

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