The Western White House
The Casa Pacifica is by far the most famous of San Clemente Landmarks. The ocean front “country home” was completed in 1927 on 110 acres at the southern most point of San Clemente for Hamilton “Ham” Cotton.
Mr. Cotton was the partner of Ole Hanson, San Clemente’s City founder.
The circular room most visible from the beach side was Mr. Cotton’s office. It is rumored that Mrs. Cotton had it built as a cigar room for her husband so he would not smoke in the main house.
In 1969, some time after Hamilton Cotton passed away, Mrs. Cotton sold the estate to a Co-op that bought it for President Richard Nixon.
At the time Mrs. Cotton, being a liberal democratic, was furious that the conservative republican, Nixon, would be taking up residence.
It is even rumored that she would not allow Mrs. Nixon to keep any of the furniture or décor and had it all shipped away, even though she would not be using it.The Casa Pacifica became world famous as “The Western White House” and the History of San Clemente was changed forever.
During his tenure the President was visited here by Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, Henry Kissinger, and Bebe Rebozo. Following his resignation, Nixon retired to San Clemente to write his memoirs.
The current owner is Gavin Herbert, Entrepreneur and owner of Roger’s Gardens and American Pharmaceuticals. His primary residence is in Bel Air but they visit occasionally.
Eight groundskeepers are employed full time to keep up the extensive gardens and it is rumored that the flower budget for the estate is $300,000 annually.
The estate is a private residence and does not offer tours or visiting hours.
Though now under private ownership, a portion of the property can be seen from the beach by walking south of the San Clemente State Park and looking up into the bluff.
Historical Walk Including Casa Pacifica