May 30, 2012 8:38 PM by Jeanette Trompeter

No Place Like Home: Chapman Mansion/Afternoon of Epicurean Delights

There is an amazing piece of property in Shell Beach that anyone who has passed by has no doubt noticed. It's a mansion on a stretch of ocean front property. And the more you know about it, and the two people who live there, the more you realize it's more proof There's No Place Like Home.

It's a beautiful piece of real-estate stretches across 7 lots on Ocean Boulevard in Shell Beach and offers amazing views of the Pacific. It's an old-school estate, the kind you don't see many of along the California Coast, and it's right in our own backyard on the farthest extending point into the ocean in Shell Beach. "There is no other property that is this size still on the cliffs." says Clifford Chapman, owner of the place.

This spectacular spread, with it's fountains, gardens, guest-houses is home to Chapman and Don Shidler. They've owned it for about four of the five decades they've been together. They have a wonderful showplace that they are connected to emotionally in a big way. "The memorial that we call Close Encounters is some way of recognizing the people who have been so important in my life." says Chapman as he shows me the memorial circle he and Don have built. On it are plaques with names on them embedded on the brick monument. Some of the plaques mark where ashes are stored, others are simply reminders of special people. So it seems appropriate that both Clifford and Don's names are on there, and their ashes will be as well when they are gone. "Maybe if I don't die soon there will be more plaques!" Chapman chuckles.

They are both sentimental optimists with quick and clever senses of humor. They keep the place up largely by themselves. "You mow this lawn?" I ask. "Yes! It's a bitch too!" Chapman chuckles again and answers.

And for the right causes they open the gates to their home to organizations they believe in, or to the neighborhood just because. "Just hot dogs and lemonade. And we just asked that people smile." says Chapman.

The first time they put up a sign inviting anyone to come on in, they said people didn't believe them, but eventually about 150 people stopped by. "And we did it again because everything was kinda down, you know, the economy was down, 'this is the end of the world, it's turned to garbage', and so let's find something positive!" says Shidler. "And so we did another hot dog stand, we said this time, 'Be thankful that you're in America', and we had about two hundred that time."

And this weekend, they will open their home to about three times that many for Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, which provides access to health and education programs to people who likely otherwise wouldn't have it. Don and Clifford do nothing political. They do host to help the underserved, and the arts. "I think that the most important thing as far as life is concerned on this planet is education and health, and so that's the reason that we're doing this." says Chapman.

There can be as many as 600 people at these events but in an environment like this there's always that constant sense of serenity. "It has a lovely calmness to it." says Chapman.

Shell Beach gossip says stars like Kurt Douglas and Harrison Ford have made efforts to buy the place, but the guys who live here say those tales aren't true. The estate isn't for sale, nor will it ever be.

This past year Clifford and Don sealed the deal to will this beautiful piece of property to the city of Pismo Beach. It will stand, as it does today....a lovely oasis right in our own backyard. Thanks to the two gentlemen who own this spectacular spread and have shared it with us all these years. They are delightful proof, There's No Place Like Home, especially along this stretch of Ocean Boulevard in Shell Beach.

The "Afternoon of Epicurian Delight" is this Sunday from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Tickets are $100 and all the money goes to Community Action Partnership. For tickets click here, stop by the Crushed Grape, the SLO Chamber of Commerce, or call (805) 544-2498.



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