Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens
San Clemente, California

Situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Spanish Colonial Revival style Casa Romantica was constructed in 1928 for City of San Clemente founder Ole Hanson. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Chattel participated in a project to reuse Casa Romantica as a cultural facility from conception in 2000 through completion in 2004.

Chattel collaborated with cultural planners WolfBrown to prepare a building reuse feasibility study, assess community needs for a cultural facility, map significant spaces, evaluate reuse opportunities and constraints, and prepare conceptual facility layouts. The scope of services included participation in stakeholder interviews, community workshops and public hearings. Chattel then worked with City staff to complete project environmental review and California Coastal Commission clearance, prepare scopes of work for and participate in selection of design and landscape architects, as well as exhibit designer. Design collaboration with the project team of architect Tony Stark, landscape architects Isabelle Greene and Lauren Melendrez, and exhibit designer Robert Checci ensured reuse plans were in conformance with the Secretary’s Standards.

The resulting Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is operated by a non-profit organization established as an implementation measure of the reuse feasibility study. Incorporating grounds landscaped with native plant species, a wet art workroom in a new subterranean addition, and an amphitheater, it is home to the local history collection of the nearby public library and a wide array of events, ranging from poetry readings to Flamenco dancing.