LARRY CULBERTSON, San Clemente
San Clemente is the Spanish Village by the Sea, and I hope it will always remain so. That was Ole Hanson’s vision back in 1925, and despite a lapse in the concept in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, the city has strongly encouraged, and now even requires, Spanish Colonial Revival (SCR) architecture for new construction in parts of the town.
Historic preservation professionals tell us that some, not all, of those non-SCR buildings are worthy of being placed on the city’s official list of historic resources. We have Art-Deco, Mid-Century Modern, Googie, and others.
Think of Pedro’s Tacos, Icons of Surf, and Bonded Cleaners on North El Camino Real, Plaza Del Mar and Sam’s Shoes on Avenida Del Mar, Denny’s on Avenida Pico, as a few possible examples.
There are also residential buildings that might be considered if they are outstanding examples of particular architectural styles. We need an expert to inventory and assess the significance of these potential candidates for listing.
Being placed on the city’s list requires the consent of the property owner and approval from city council. With listing comes the potential for considerable property-tax reduction.
One building that might have made the cut will soon be out of the running. Tommy’s Restaurant at 1409 S. El Camino Real has closed and will be demolished to make way for another two-story office building.
The building was constructed in 1963. It was “Bob’s Coffee Shop” until 1980, when it became “Tiny Naylor’s Restaurant/Bakery. In 1982, it became “Ginger’s Family Dining” for just one year, then “Buffy’s Family Dining” in 1983. Sometime before 1988, it became “Tommy’s Family Restaurant.”
Through all these name changes and ownership, it retained its distinctive Mid-Century coffee shop look. Stone walls with lots of big plate glass windows. The most noticeable detail is that “sawtooth” or “folded plate” roof made famous by Donald Wexler and other Modern architects.
Big money for big projects is coming into San Clemente. It is important that we maintain a balance between replacing the old and retaining some vestiges of our past.
Please help the San Clemente Historical Society convince the city it is time to protect important Mid-Century historic resources.