The Miles Bates House –  A Progress Report

New Publicity

Our last newsletter covered the state of this home and the visit by aficionados to view it, organized by the City and the Historical Society of Palm Desert.

It was Front Page news on June 9th in The Desert Sun, reporting the visit by Palm Desert City Councilors of June 7th.  The article will help popularize the rescue with the headline “Save the Wave”.

Miles Bates House Palm Desert
Miles Bates House Palm Desert


It reports the Historical Society of Palm Desert’s initiative to raise funds to have the house designated a national historic landmark.  According to Prof. Welter of UC Santa Barbara, it is “a rare if not sole survivor that recalls the architectural origins of Palm Desert”   The architect Walter S. White designed at least 48 homes in Palm Desert. This, the Bates home and those would be of great interest to participants of Modernism Week.

It also reports the downside – it could be purchased and demolished so the land could be used for apartment buildings.  The City has no control of what happens to it before or after it is sold as it is not their property, and they do not have the funds to contribute toward designation or restoration.

New Photographs

Here are some vintage photos of the original home.  The first shows the West end of the home and patio that are now covered by the later addition.  The second shows the kitchen and dining area on the North side of this end and the third is a photo of the living area on the South side. The bedroom occupies the other end of the home.  Mid-Century Modern in its purist form.

Walter S. White (1917-2002), Miles C. Bates house, Palm Desert, CA, 1954-5.
Images courtesy of Architecture and Design Collection, Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara.
© UC Regents.

New – Donations

Here is the Historical Society of Palm Desert’s announcement of the “Save the Wave” project.  The flyer contains a wonderful photograph of the home showing the elegance of design and how it follows the contour of the mountain.

The HSPD goal is to raise $9,000 by July 1st in order to obtain a national historic designation for the home.  It is understood they have raised less than half that amount now, so you or anyone you know interested in history or architecture should contribute now, as the clock is ticking.

This relatively small amount of money will be spread out over many contributors, if we get the word out.  Donations of $20 or so from those who are sympathetic and $100 from those who feel strongly about, or might gain directly or indirectly from preservation, with donations of higher amounts from those able, should do it.

Contributions should be made to the HSPD as instructed in the flyer or you can contribute right now, right here!  HSPD will send a tax receipt for your donation.


The next phase will be the disposal of the property.  An alternative that should be considered is it’s acquisition and donation by an individual to a non-profit organization. Such a donor using a Conservation Easement on the property, along with a grant for restoration, may qualify for a substantial federal tax benefit, given the possible multiplier effect of forgone future value.

We recently learned that the California Historical Building Code can exempt qualified buildings from certain modern building codes, making restoration more feasible.

As mentioned in the last newsletter, the home was appraised at the value it would have if brought back to functionality as a dwelling and rental units.  This is an unrealistic valuation as it would not result in restoration, but as a continued eyesore and the eventual destruction of the structure for the land.  A new appraisal should be made, based on its existing value and cost of restoration. This would be the only realistic valuation of this kind of property.


Save the Wave

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