SAN CLEMENTE : 3rd Spanish Heritage Group Is Formed

Although two groups are already working to preserve the city's historic Spanish architecture, a third has been organized with hopes of ultimately drawing more tourists to the seaside city.

The recently formed Spanish Village Heritage Group, which plans to work with the San Clemente Historical Society, intends to educate residents on the city's history, preserve historical buildings, and ultimately, improve tourism, said Marilyn Coduti, the group's president.

Calling the 1990s the "decade of conservation and preservation," she said the city's Spanish colonial-style homes are its biggest asset.

The city has designated 233 structures "Ole Hanson Homes" because they reflect the vision of Hanson, who worked to create the "Spanish Village by the Sea."

"We want to be informative in how (preservation) can be economically viable for the city," Coduti said. "We should be a destination, and we have to market our uniqueness to do that."

The group is planning to heighten public awareness through various events, such as open houses held at a historical home.

Recently, more than 100 people visited one residential landmark, which was built in 1928 for two wine moguls, Max Goldschmidt and his brother Herman. Located on a choice knoll covered with wine groves, the house afforded the Goldschmidts sweeping views as far down the coast as San Diego.

Today, owners Jann and Jim Kempton, are restoring the 4,600-square-foot home, which they bought in 1985. Jim Kempton, a founding board member of the Spanish Village Heritage Group, said the home is their third Ole Hanson and reflects a commitment to the preservation of history.

"We just feel like caretakers. There's so little that is really old in Southern California," Jim Kempton said. "The period during which they were built really epitomizes the California lifestyle. It represents a return of Spanish colonialists who used minimal wood, red tile roofs."

Coduti said historical sites such as the Kempton house will serve two purposes for the group's events. "When the people come, they can not only hear about it, but they can physically see just how wonderful they can be," she said.

Along with the public awareness campaign, group members are meeting with similar groups in other cities to share information.

Coduti said her organization is interested in preserving all historical structures and putting them to use. For example, the group would like to, but does not have the resources, to help renovate an Ole Hanson home owned by Anne and Robert Stanbrook.

Because the structure is a Hanson house, the City Council has issued a 90-day delay on the Stanbrooks' permit to demolish the structure. Meanwhile, the Stanbrooks have offered to give the house away to anyone willing to move it.

"We could take it, move it, and get a grant to restore it and put it somewhere, maybe it can be an Amtrak Station," Coduti said. "Why couldn't it be used as a little train station instead of the wall that's there now?"

A U-shaped wall near the San Clemente Pier now serves as a stop for Amtrak passenger trains.

Although the city's Community Design Commission and historical society share the same goals as the Spanish Village Heritage Group, Coduti said more resources are needed to preserve historic buildings.

While the design commission only reviews certain projects within 300 feet of historical structures, the new society will focus on establishing a museum.

"I think that all of us are striving for the same purpose," Coduti said. "I'm just not sure, we know how to do it yet."

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