All About Tamarisk Rancho in Rancho Mirage

Tamarisk Rancho is a premium neighborhood located in the heart of suburban Rancho Mirage adjacent to the Tamarisk Country Club. There are two clusters of 16 Mid-Century Modern homes enclosing  groomed, park-like green belts with tranquil views of mature fruit trees and date palms that may predate the development.  The 45-foot swimming pool at the center of this private oasis in the South cluster was advertised in 1958 as “one of the finest in Palm Springs.”  It was the scene of al fresco cocktail parties hosted by the likes of Barbara Sinatra, Groucho Marx and other Hollywood talent from in front and behind the camera.

Tamarisk Rancho is architecturally significant as a well designed and intact example of a property type apparently unique to Rancho Mirage and the Coachella Valley area. These are planned unit developments of privately owned single-family residences sharing grounds and a swimming pool (a Cooperative).

The three basic roof configurations are flat, low-pitched front gabled, or butterfly. The exteriors are stucco, natural rock, board and batten. Each house is approximately 1,900 square feet plus a garage, in a 3 bedrooms/3 bathroom floor plan, or 2 bedrooms plus den and 2 bathrooms.

Original windows are aluminum-framed casement, sliding, and floor-to-ceiling glass. Some elevations have clerestory windows. Rafters are visible beneath deep eaves. The rectangular houses have open floor plans with indoor-outdoor access through large sliding glass doors. Exterior and interior chimneys are thin brick or natural rock.

Tamarisk Rancho South was developed by Lou Halper’s Devon Construction Company in 1958.  Architecturally, the homes were clearly influenced by William Krisel and Dan Palmer’s designs for the Alexander Company. According to Krisel himself, Lou Halper paid Krisel to do the overall master plan, then Halper’s in-house architects designed the various houses. Not surprisingly, the completed homes bear a striking resemblance to the Palmer and Krisel Alexander homes being constructed at the same time in the Twin Palms area of Palm Springs.

Among the Cooperative SFRs in Rancho Mirage, the Tamarisk Rancho (and Tamarisk Fairway on 10th) properties are the best remaining examples of the type in terms of condition, architectural style, integrity, setting, workmanship, and association. The only alteration to the grounds is the relatively minor fence enclosure of the pool. As an excellent example of this new type of Modern tract housing that characterized Rancho Mirage from the late 1950s to the late 1960s, the Tamarisk Ranchos appears eligible for designation as a historic district.

The history of Tamarisk Rancho centers around a small group of the founding members of the Tamarisk Country Club: developer Lou Halper, City National Bank owner Al Hart, comedian Groucho Marx, producers Alfred Tugend and Harry Robbin, and attorney Philip Eisendrath.  Instead of each building custom houses along the golf course, they decided to have Lou Halper build modest
houses around a communal park and swimming pool on property one block west of the golf course.

Other Tamarisk Country Club members purchased houses at Tamarisk Ranchos including agent Jules Goldstone, Oscar-winning producer/screenwriter Larry Weingarten, J.A. Minow, Joseph Checkers of Chicago, Oscar-winning director Alfred Lushing, Hal Meyers, and attorney Hy Raskin.  Raskin had co-chaired Adlai Stevenson’s election campaign and later served as West Coast campaign manager for John F. Kennedy. Many were also members of the Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles.

Barbara Marx purchased the Groucho Marx’ house after her divorce from Zeppo Marx and it remained in her name after her marriage to Frank Sinatra.

State of California Resources Agency
Department Of Parks And Recreation

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