The Chapman Estate — a gift to the Central Coast

Saturday, May 11th, 2024

Champan Estate Pismo Beach

Courtesy of the Chapman Estate Foundation

A lighthouse, windmill, koi pond, and acres of gardens

—Touring the grounds and gardens of the Chapman Estate in Shell Beach is an opportunity to enjoy an exquisite gift to the Central Coast. It all started in 1929 when Arthur and Celia Rogers purchased land and started building. The next owner, Clifford Chapman, bequeathed the estate to the City of Pismo Beach in 2013. Clifford directed that the estate be open to the public, designated non-profit organizations, and neighborhood and private events.

Walking around the grounds overlooking the Pacific Ocean is an opportunity to spend quiet time by the koi pond, examine the historic windmill and lighthouse, and experience the gardens in full bloom. The Begonia Building, dedicated to colorful flowering begonias awes everyone who enters.

Arthur and Celia Rogers purchased three lots in 1929. In 1930 they completed the English Tudor mansion, romantically named Artede, combining Arthur and Celia’s nickname, Tede. Over time, they acquired more adjoining land, including the Gull Cottage, and built the windmill and lighthouse.

After acquiring the estate in 1962, Clifford Chapman and Don Shidler, partners for nearly 50 years, created a hub for local and worldwide artists, musicians, and writers. It became a hotspot for fundraising events and neighborhood celebrations. The couple hosted annual fundraisers for Opera SLO, SLO Symphony, and CAPSLO’s “Afternoon of Epicurean Delights.” They also hosted weddings and gatherings for family and friends.

Chapman Estate windmill house Shell Beach

The windmill on the Chapman Estate.

Arthur Rogers added the windmill in 1934 to house pumps for the swimming pool. One pump added seawater to the pool, the second warmed the water through an early version of solar heating; terra-cotta tiles covered with glass, then returned heated water to the pool.

The windmill is an iconic feature of the estate, also known locally as the Windmill House. Rogers built the lighthouse in 1948 to provide privacy from a neighbor’s two-story house.

When Arthur died in 1960, Celia spent her last years at the estate. It had fallen into neglect and her heirs could not maintain it. Born and raised in Guadalupe, Chapman knew the estate from his early travels with his father and purchased it at auction for $62,000.

Clifford and Shidler restored the estate, including rebuilding the lighthouse, adding the koi pond, and the Pavilion of 1000 Moons, ornamented with parts from China, to discourage hungry birds.

The Rogers filled the mansion with furniture collections, an extensive library, and artwork. Chapman paid extra for the collections, which are still in the home, along with the Chapman and Shidler collections.

Tours and events

Open Gates tours of the grounds and gardens are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m., through October. Admission is $5. Docent tours are an additional $5.

Call Pismo Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau, (805) 773-7034 for updates about tours of the mansion’s interior.

The “Swingin’ by the Sea” fundraiser is September 21 at the estate from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Ticket sales start August 1 through the website. Get yours early!

The estate is located at 1243 Ocean Boulevard, Shell Beach, and is managed and maintained by the Chapman Estate Foundation. For more information visit chapmanestate.org.

—Jackie Iddings

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