of San Clemente

By Christine Lampert, Architect, AlA,

NCARB | Photos by Jackie Brown

A Halloween approaches, it’s a good time to meet some of the ghosts of San Clemente.The town of San Clemente has been around since the 1920s, which is enough time to have accumulated a few stories about ghosts in some of the older buildings.

The first stop on our ghost tour is Avenida Del Mar, thedowntown shopping destination, where mysteriou activities are said to have taken place in one of the shops. Th Abode is a popular gift shop located in a historic old home on Avenida Del Mar. The shopkeepers report that they often head and have even seen an apparition of a women with long blond hair wearing a dress. Several visitors to the shop have confirmed her sightings because they have asked about the women in the
kitchen cooking or the woman in the bedroom … but is no huma in those rooms. A local dog named Ava, known for her ability to sense strange presences, has also seemingly confirmed the ghost woman’s presence by acting very nervous whenever she is in the shop. No one knows for sure, but the best guess is that the mysterious ghost was probably once the resident of the house and she has never left.

Our next stop brings us just a few blocks away to the Cabrillo Theater, a home built in the 1920s that was converted to a theater.The theater staff often hear footsteps coming from the costume and prop room while they’re working alone in the theater at night.

One of the best-known historic houses in town with a ghostly presence is the Casa Romantica. This was the home of the founder of San Clemente, Ole Hanson. Today, the Casa Romantica is a cultural center owned by the city. An original handcrafted do that opens into the courtyard from the wing of the house whereOle Hanson once lived will not stay closed no matter how well it is locked. It always springs open in the middle of the night when no one is around. The staff decided to permanently bolt the doorto the wall so that it cannot be unlocked in the middle of the nightby these unknown forces. In addition to the door being opened,


the staff often hear the voices of a man and a young girl when no one is in the house.

On the north end of town, the restaurant that is currently Landers was built in 1931 as the Aquarium Cafe. The Aquarium Cafe wassuccessful for many years, but the day before they planned on their grand opening, the original owner took his own life It was a huge mystery to everyone. The big question that remains is whether he still haunts the building.

Also in North Beach, is the Casino, a popular event venue. This 1936 building was renovated in 1995 by the previous owner andthe architects who were measuring the building for the renovation drawings found a room that they couldn’t enter. The energy was so scary that everyone on the team refused to enter, so they hadto draw the plans without the information on that room.

No one knows for sure if ghosts really hauntany of San Clemente’ solder buildings, but the stories are fun to share, especially at thisspooky time of year.

Christine Lampert of Lampert Dias Architects is a member of theAmerican Institute of Architects and is certified with the National

Council of Architectural Registration Boards. She has lived in San Clemente for more than 45 years, and also resides part time in Hong Kong.

Christine Lampert, Architect, AIA, NCARB

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