San Clemente: The Spanish Village by the Sea

The beaches and rolling hills of San Clemente have beckoned travelers for nearly a century. Every twenty years, the population of the “Spanish Village by the Sea” more than doubles, proving that the intoxicating allure of San Clemente is virtually impossible to resist.

The original occupants of the region now known as San Clemente were the Acjachemen people, later called Juaneño by Spanish settlers. The area was colonized in 1776 with the establishment of the Mission San Juan Capistrano by Father Junipero Serra, who founded the first nine Spanish missions in California. Yet, it was nearly 150 years later that a national political figure decided to make San Clemente a destination for Americans seeking escape from metropolitan life.

“I have a clean canvas and I am determined to paint a clean picture.”

The modern history of San Clemente begins with the desire of one man to create a paradise for residents. Ole Hanson had come to national prominence as the mayor of Seattle, where his administration staunchly opposed union workers in 1919’s Seattle General Strike. The strike was considered part of the Red Scare in 1919 and 1920, and Hanson’s handling of the matter earned him favor with conservatives across the nation.

Hanson’s tenure as mayor was brief. After being the target of assassination attempts, he resigned in 1919, choosing instead to become an author, lecturer and world traveler. It was on his journey to the Balkans where he became enamored with the architecture of southern Spain. After returning to California and finding success in the Los Angeles real estate market, Hanson set his sights on bringing the charm and design of Spanish villages to a largely uninhabited stretch of land in Orange County.

Hanson envisioned a community that would attract people who had grown tired of urban life and the stresses of a bustling metropolis. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Hanson brought his vision to life in San Clemente. Like many Americans, Hanson struggled financially from the fallout of the Great Depression and eventually moved on to another community, though his original vision of a town filled with Spanish Colonial Revival architecture still influences San Clemente’s landscape today.

The Western White House

The lure of San Clemente has made it a popular destination for many prominent figures, one of whom was President Richard Nixon. Nixon’s San Clemente home was dubbed the “Western White House,” and it hosted both national and global political leaders, including a soviet premier, a Mexican president and a prime minister of Japan.

San Clemente Today

Over the past 30 years, the population of San Clemente has more than doubled. The same sentiments echoed in Ole Hanson’s sales pitches to home buyers pre-World War II are the ones that prompt the arrival of new residents and visitors to this day.

With this influx of travelers and residents come the same growing pains that any popular destination experiences. Busy roads, well-traveled infrastructure and more interactions between people and businesses typically result in more vehicle crashes and personal injuries.
At Neale & Fhima, we are committed to helping our clients navigate the challenges posed by personal injury. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury in San Clemente due to someone else’s negligence, contact us today to learn how we can help you.

To learn more about how Neale & Fhima can help you,  we suggest reading the following pages: