The Egan House, located across from El Adobe de Capistrano Restaurant, was constructed in 1883. After a fire in 1897 destroyed the upper part of the structure, it was rebuilt in 1898. The house is a Victorian/Greek Revival building. It was built of terra cotta brick brought from San Diego. The bricks were “left over” from a slight “miscalculation” on the part of Richard Egan when he was ordering the bricks for Casa Grande. Casa Grande was the former home of Marcos Forster family on El Camino Real and which torn down in 1965.
Judge Richard Egan was born in Ireland and settled in San Juan Capistrano in 1868. He purchased 160 acres at $1.25 an acre on the north end of town on Camino Capistrano. He later sold the land to R. Y. and W. B. Williams for $60,000. He first lived in an adobe on this ranch, but the adobe was later washed away in a flood.
Guests on Judge Egan’s porch.
Lady in middle, top row, is Madame Helena Modjeska, renowned Polish actress.
In 1883 Egan built this house and named it Harmony Hall. It was known for the social activities of Judge Egan which included balls, picnics, dinners and parties. The Judge was also a landowner, farmer, telegrapher, notary, surveyor, agent for nearby landowners, keeper of rainfall records, dispenser of charity to the needy, and a Justice of the Peace. From 1870 to1890 Judge Egan’s name did not need to be on the ballot for him to be re-elected.
Egan was also a Los Angeles County Supervisor from 1885 to 1889. When Orange County was formed, he was instrumental in defining the boundaries between the two counties. Judge Egan was also instrumental in securing rights of way for the Santa Fe Railroad in town.
When the house had a fire in 1897, much of Judge Egan’s historical collection of documents and artifacts was destroyed. When he passed away the remainder of his collection was taken by his heirs back east and since has been unable to locate their whereabouts. William English, a well-known contractor of the period built this Victorian/Greek Revival one and one-half story house. It has a shingled roof and dormer windows, four rooms downstairs and two rooms in the attic which were used for Egan’s elegant balls. In the basement was a wine cellar. The house still has the original mahogany floors.
Over the years the house has changed ownership many times and became at times an office, galleria, restaurant, boutique and now a restaurant once again.