La Casa Pacifica

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An exterior photograph of the San Clemente house

La Casa Pacifica (Spanish for "The Pacific House"; translated also as "The House of Peace"[1]) is a mansion located in the Cottons Point Estates gated community on the beaches of San Clemente, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The home is known as President Richard Nixon's Western White House, used while working away from the official presidential residence, the White House.

The large, Spanish-style, California Mission Revival mansion was modeled after a country home in San Sebastian, Spain and was designed by architect Carl Lindbom.[2] Built in the early days of San Clemente by one of founder Ole Hanson's partners, the estate was originally owned by Hamilton H. Cotton, a Democratic Party backer who entertained such party luminaries as President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

By the time he took office in 1969, President Nixon asked a young campaign aide, Fred Divel, to search the coast of Southern California for a presidential hideaway.[2] The aide found the home in then-little known San Clemente and Nixon bought the estate in 1969 from Cotton's widow. Nixon dubbed the home "La Casa Pacifica," but it was soon nicknamed "The Western White House" by the press and himself; the latter became the term of subsequent similar presidential homes.

President Richard and first lady Pat Nixon in the living room, 1971

Upon purchasing the estate, Nixon soon made a number of alterations, both for personal preference and needs of the Secret Service. The tennis court was replaced with a swimming pool and much of the estate was wrapped by a 1500-foot C-shaped wall.[2] During his tenure as chief executive, it was visited by such guests as Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, Henry Kissinger, and Bebe Rebozo.

Following the President's resignation, Richard and Pat Nixon retired to San Clemente, where the President wrote his memoirs. Some of his neighbors displayed their loyalty to the embattled former president.[2] The Frost/Nixon interviews were originally planned for La Casa Pacifica, but radio signals from the Coast Guard's neighboring navigational-aid transmitters interfered with the TV gear and the interview had to be moved to a nearby home of a Nixon supporter.[3] By the late 1980s, the Nixons moved to Park Ridge, New Jersey, and the home was sold to Allergan-founder Gavin S. Herbert and his business partners. A strong Republican donor, Herbert kept the home as his own while developing much of the area around it into estates.[2]

The home is currently a private residence and closed to the public; however, its legacy as a presidential retreat is still used as a calling card for the city of San Clemente.[2] The road adjacent to Interstate 5 in the area is called Avenida del Presidente (Avenue of the President). The estate sits above one of the West Coast's major surfing spots, just north of Upper Trestles, and just north of San Onofre State Park. In December 2009, the city of San Clemente passed a "Historical Property Preservation Agreement[4] " to restore, improve, and preserve this historical building.


  1. ^ Richard Nixon, 183 - Remarks at a Reception for General Secretary Brezhnev in San Clemente, California, June 23rd, 1973.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ashley Powers, Nixon’s legacy still splits city, Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2007, Accessed January 24, 2009.
  3. ^ "Nixon Talks". Time Magazine. May 9, 1977. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  4. ^ "San Clemente City Archive". San Clemente. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 

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Coordinates: 33°23′28″N 117°35′49″W / 33.390989°N 117.597081°W / 33.390989; -117.597081