Tamarisk Rancho in Rancho Mirage has Significant Mid-Century Modern Architecture

70470 Tamarisk Ln Tamarisk Rancho, Rancho Mirage

Located next to Tamarisk Country Club you will find a well-desired community, Tamarisk Rancho, which is divided into two separate parts featuring each 16 Mid-Century Modern homes.  The homes are built along grassy green belts with a 45 foot long pool in the center inviting for a swim or just to relax while admiring the beautiful views to many date palms and fruit trees giving it a feel of living in an oasis.  Tamarisk Rancho hosted many parties in the 50th attended by Barbara Sinatra, Groucho Marx and many other stars from Hollywood and was advertised back then as being one of the greatest places in the Palm Springs area. Continue reading “Tamarisk Rancho in Rancho Mirage has Significant Mid-Century Modern Architecture”

Great Mid-Century Modern Areas in the Palm Springs Valley Part II

Sandpiper Palm Desert
Sandpiper Palm Desert


Sandpiper has the distinction of being the oldest residential development in Palm Desert. Architect William Krisel designed Sandpiper in the 1960’s. The homes are Mid-Century Modern in design. His inspiration came from Frank Lloyd Wright. He offered brightly lit homes that were well designed along with lovely landscaping and quiet private views. The whole property has 18 “pods.” Each has its own lovely swimming pool and there are 6 buildings within the “pod” and each contains two one-level homes. Sandpiper is a convenient walk or stroll to groceries, coffee shops, restaurants and shopping on El Paseo Drive

Sandpiper home prices range from $250,000 to $500,000+.


Continue reading “Great Mid-Century Modern Areas in the Palm Springs Valley Part II”

Great Mid-Century Modern Areas in the Palm Springs Valley

Ocotillo Lodge in Palm Springs


Old Las Palmas has one of the largest population of homes in Palm Springs that are owned by celebrities. Many of the homes date back to the 1920’s, when it was developed by Alvah Hicks, a builder from New York, and his son Harold. It was a citrus grove before being developed into one of the most prestigious areas of Palm Springs. Back in the 50’s and 60’s Old Las Palmas had many well known celebrities as residents, Liberace, Alan Ladd, Rudy Vallee, Edgar Bergen, and George Hamilton to name a few.

Old Las Palmas is very convenient, and within walking distance to downtown Palm Springs. There are many special advantages to living in Old Las Palmas.

Today, Old Las Palmas is recognized as one of the premier locations in Palm Springs with manicured estates and magnificent views of the San Jacinto mountains.

The-Warner-Estate-Old-Las-Palmas Photo George Gutenberg
The-Warner-Estate-Old-Las-Palmas Photo George Gutenberg


Vista Las Palmas – the Beverly Hills of Palm Springs, used to be the place where many Los Angeles Celebrities and Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin known as the “Rat Pack” would vacation in the 50”s and it became known as the Beverly Hills of Palm Springs.

Nestled between the San Jacinto Mountains and downtown Palm Springs, it made it the perfect place to build “Alexander Homes” done by Architect William Krisel. Vista Las Palmas still features many of them in todays so popular mid-century modern era. Alexander architecture is nowadays well known with their roof styles such as butterfly, low-gabled and folded plate, post & beam construction, clerestory windows, center halls and large lots. “Swiss Misses” became also popular with their double A-frame designed by Charles Dubois and still can be found today in Vista Las Palmas.

Mid-century modern rules the Vista Las Palmas area and many of the older original homes have been restored, remodeled and modernized and increased tremendously in value over the last years.

Home prices in Old Las Palmas and Vista Las Palmas range from $750,000 to $10 Million+.

Alexander 619 N Rose Ave Vista Las Palmas - Photo MLS
Alexander 619 N Rose Ave Vista Las Palmas – Photo MLS


This is one of those neighborhoods within the city of Palm Springs that is as rich with history as any, but may not be as well-known.

In 1952 Deepwell was officially started as a subdivision. It is a neighborhood filled with rich history, but it is not as well known as some areas of Palm Springs. It has a colorful and long history as a very important part of Palm Springs.

In 1926, Henry Pearson a scientist, bought the area that is known today as the Deepwell Ranch property. He dug his first well and discovered water as deep as 630 feet. This is the deepest well in the Coachella Valley. This is why the property became known as Deepwell Ranch.

Today, a drive through the streets of this neighborhood is great fun, but better yet, rent some bikes and ride these quite streets and enjoy one the of oldest neighborhoods of Palm Springs.

The price of homes in Deepwell and Deepwell Ranch range from $400,000 to $1,200,000+.

Mid-Century modern in Deepwell Palm Springs - Photo George Gutenberg
Mid-Century modern in Deepwell Palm Springs – Photo George Gutenberg

Heidi O’Neal


Mid-Century Modern Design in Eldorado Country Club

46620 Eldorado CC, Indian Wells, CA

46620 Eldorado CC, Indian Wells, CA

The original country club in Indian Wells

Eldorado Country Club is one of the older traditional country clubs with lots of history, owned by private members in the desert and has recently enjoyed the celebration of their 50th anniversary.  The location of the club, nestled in the cove of Indian Wells, is superb with it’s spectacular views to the Santa Rosa Mountains and is the ideal place to enjoy all the amenities the club is offering.  Members have been enjoying world-class services and great times among themselves.

Way back in the past, the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks passed through the Coachella Valley and the location where Indian Wells got established much later in the future.  Around 1870 the rail and state traffic increased and the County of Riverside built a more efficient well.  The location of the new well was just about 100 feet away from an old Native American village where no one lived anymore.  Beginning of the twentieth century the new well became important to serve thousands of travelers and the new first permanent residents in that area.  The very first people living there in the late 1800s established a post office and Indian Wells was becoming a residential area from the late 1910’s on.

At the similar time, the Date industry was growing as well and around the 1920’s, Indian Wells was growing and became a successful community.  There was another increase in growth when Eldorado Country Club and Indian Wells Club and its Golf Course was built and people moved into these communities.

By 1957 the first home owners association was founded and a petition was filed with the state by the Citizens to incorporate Indian Wells.  In June of 1967, around 285 voters were registered for their very first city election and it passed by major majority to incorporate Indian Wells to become the 400th city within California.  This was also the time when the area attracted a lot of celebrities and other famous people such as Desi Arnaz who was a Hollywood entertainer and owned the Indian Wells Hotel.  He participated in developing the Indian Wells Country Club and Golf Course and President D. Eisenhower liked the area so much that he chose Indian Wells as his winter destination to be.  Much later, the top golf and tennis tournaments attracted many more big names in the USA.Eldorado Country Club House, Indian Wells

Ralph Haverkate

Sandpiper Condominium Circles 11 and 12 Designated a Palm Desert Historic District

Sandpiper’s circles are built around pools and green belts amid lush landscaping.

Sandpiper Condominium complex has just become one of Palm Desert’s most significant architectural residential communities.  This past spring, Palm Desert City Council unanimously voted Sandpiper Condominium Circles 11 and 12 – built in 1965 by the renowned architects Palmer & Krisel — as an Historic District.

Sandpiper's circles are built around pools and green belts amid lush landscaping.
Sandpiper’s circles are built around pools and green belts amid lush landscaping.

Palm Springs Preservation Foundation member Jim Harlan authored the nomination with the enthusiastic support of Sandpiper homeowners Barbara and Bernie Cain and Jim West. The process began last December and was successfully given approval this year.

Sandpiper was conceived as a low-density community and designed for maximum privacy and mountain views with pools, spas, a putting green and wide green belts amid lush landscaping.  Located at the west end of now famous El Paseo, today, it is within walking distance to some of the desert’s most trendy restaurants, galleries, shops, and malls.

While all of the buildings within the Sandpiper complex are designed in the modernistic style, they were built over time — from 1958 to 1969 – by different builders so that various circles have different characteristics.  But Circles 11 and 12, consisting of 16 buildings housing 32 units, were determined to “represent the most intact examples of modernist architecture,” according to the Palm Spring Preservation Foundation.


Sandpiper’s architectural features includes a flat roof, expansive use of glass, clerestory windows, and novel uses of then-new concrete screen block and Shadowall, multi-faceted concrete masonry.

In his report, Harlan notes that the complex Circles 11 and 12 are excellent examples of architecture built during the midcentury period with modern methods of construction.  In addition, they are the work of master architects, Palmer & Krisel.

“The architects’ successful site planning, landscape and architectural design create not only a unique but an early example of a multi-unit residential condominium project,” said Harlan in his report.Sandpiper 4

The two sections are a “singularly intact example of the significant modernist architecture for which the Coachella Valley is internationally known.”

Even when it was built, The Sandpiper complex was immediately recognized by the architectural community as an extraordinary effort that combined a sense of proportion, massing, refinement and use of modern materials and technology – a stylistic marker of the modernist movement.

Palmer & Krisel’s building design and site plan created a “built-environment” that attempted to combine the best of city and rural life in a utopian environment.

At the time, Sandpiper was advertised as “a new concept in carefree desert living” where “each Sandpiper apartment is cleverly arranged around a pool and garden area amid an oasis of tropical landscaping.”

Sandpiper unapologetically catered to the aspiring upper middle class, so that the feeling of the buildings had to exude urbanity but in a more informal resort setting.  Homeowners were promised a “garden apartment with maid, linen and other resort hotel services as your fingertips!”

The late 1950s were a sophisticated, optimistic and open time, a feeling still expressed by Sandpiper Circles 11 and 12’s design.  The buildings and site still retain a high degree of integrity and continues its association with the modernism movement that has made a significant contribution to the community.

Pamela Bieri





Oops, There Goes The Neighborhood… Safeguarding Unique Mid Century Modern Tracts

Almost every development of modern homes faces the eventual challenge of keeping its architectural integrity.  But as Mid-Century Modernism wins more fans, residents are banning together to save their neighborhoods’ unique look and character.

Since Modernism is a subtle style, it is easily compromised:   Adding a carriage style outdoor light fixture in lieu of an original hour-glass one, or tearing down artistic block to erect an adobe wall can easily change a home or neighborhood’s look.

In an Eichler network story by Dave Weinstein, Streetscape Smarts, he notes that, “The other major challenge to preserving modern neighborhoods is their age.  Many landmarking laws only kick in if a building is at least 50.”



The City of Palm Springs is already way ahead of that game with its Office of Neighborhood Involvement that provides residents with “responsive, coordinated services that promote and support collaboration and communications through recognized neighborhoods.” Continue reading “Oops, There Goes The Neighborhood… Safeguarding Unique Mid Century Modern Tracts”

Historic Neighborhoods Preserve Architectural, Aesthetic Qualities and Retain Homes’ Value

Whether in a large metropolis, small city or country village, neighborhoods define a quality of life, a community, and offer a sense of belonging, of pride and place.

By some historic benchmarks, Palm Springs, incorporated in 1938, is relatively young.  But its explosive growth in the Mid-Century  — particularly innovative modern tract and custom homes — set in motion communities born from a sense of new frontiers, prosperity, and optimism that characterized the American spirit post World War II.

Desert Modernism became a style all its own as renowned architects adapted the International Style to the desert’s warm climate and arid terrain, creating an elegant yet informal quality.  Desert Modern residences tend to have post-and-beam construction, open floor-plans, glass walls that connect indoors to outdoors, and are designed on a more human scale, often integrating organic shapes, bold colors, and playful designs. Continue reading “Historic Neighborhoods Preserve Architectural, Aesthetic Qualities and Retain Homes’ Value”

Famed Architect Barry Berkus (1925-2012) – At Modernism Week 2011

Mid-Century Modern in Palm Springs

During Modernism Week 2011, Park Imperial South on South Araby Drive in Palm Springs celebrated its 50th birthday and invited the public to tour its 31-unit condominium community.  Created in 1960 by one of the nation’s most noted residential architects, Barry Berkus, AIA, Park Imperial South’s remarkable Mid Century Modern design still thrives and remains virtually untouched.

www.parkimperialsouthps.com         www.modernismweek.com

Berkus guided the tour and presented his take on modernism’s mark on architecture in Palm Springs and across America.  A video archive of the design tour and Berkus’ discussion is posted here. Continue reading “Famed Architect Barry Berkus (1925-2012) – At Modernism Week 2011”

Tennis Club and Sunnylands – Architect A. Quincy Jones Work Continues Relevant in This Century


Tennis Club Pool Part of Palm Springs Art Museum  Symposium November 21; Sunnylands Undergoing Restoration as Art and Education Center

The Palm Springs Art Museum at www.psmuseum.org,  is sponsoring a two-day education event, Backyard Oasis Symposium: The Swimming Pool In Southern California Photography, 1945-1980, Nov. 20 and 21.  A tour of significant Palm Springs pools on the second day of the symposium concludes with a reception at the A. Quincy Jones-designed Tennis Club pool.

The event is sponsored by the museum’s Architecture and Design Council, but is open to the public.  Cost is $125 for non members.  For information, contact Brooke DeVenney at (760) 322-4818 or [email protected].

In 1947, Jones and associate Paul R. Williams collaborated to redesign the Tennis Club, then owned by Palm Springs pioneer Pearl  McCallum McManus.  Initially, the project was to renovate and expand club’s kitchen, swimming pool and tennis courts.  But it grew to include creating a new dining room — the Bougainvillea Room which is literally carved out of the mountain’s rock face –as well as a snack bar, cocktail lounge and terraces for outdoor dining and relaxing. Continue reading “Tennis Club and Sunnylands – Architect A. Quincy Jones Work Continues Relevant in This Century”

Indulge Your Passion for Desert Modern Homes at the 2010 Home Tour


Those with a passion for Desert modern architecture can indulge their senses at the Palm Springs Modern Heritage Fund’s 2010 Annual Home Tour (www.psmodernheritagefund.com/events.html) on Saturday, Nov. 6.   This year’s tour will cover residences in Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs with the rare opportunity to discover magnificent estates behind the gated hillside community of Thunderbird Heights, open for the very first time to tour guests.

The day-long, self driving tour includes eight homes and concludes with a poolside wine and cheese reception.  Cost is $125 and only a limited number of tickets will be available online for purchase at   www.psmodernheritagefund.com. Tour details will be provided to registrants only.

“Home tours like these are a great way to get acquainted with the superb collection of modern homes that we have here in Palm Springs,” said Ralph Haverkate.

“Palm Springs contains one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern homes and buildings that you’ll find anywhere,” said Haverkate.  “The desert landscape here inspired such world-famous architects as Richard J. Neutra (www.neutrafoundation.com), Donald Wexler (www.moderndeserthome.com/index.php/architects.donald), Albert Frey, William F. Cody, Bill Krisel and Stewart E. Williams (www.psmodcom.com) who put their own stamp on mid-century modernist aesthetic.  It is so distinctive, in fact, that we now have a separate term for it  — desert modernism.”

Mid-century modern architecture, from approximately the 1940s through the 1960s, was partly fueled by the economic and housing boom of post World War II.  Desert modernism, a regional approach to International Style architecture, capitalized on the sunny skies and warm climate of the Palm Springs area, incorporating rocks, trees and other landscape features into the design.

A haven for captains of industry, Hollywood celebrities, and a burgeoning population of middle-class American families in the mid-20th century, Palm Springs was unique in place and time in that many talented, world renowned architects found their niche creating visionary, innovative civic buildings, custom and tract homes through both private investors and public commissions.

Characterized by open floor plans, extensive use of glass, steel and concrete, and seamless transitions from indoor to outdoor spaces, Palm Springs mid-century modern homes have been enjoying a revival of interest over the past decade or more.

“These day, buyers who have an eye for design are very much in the market for modern homes in Palm Springs,” said Haverkate  “With these homes now recognized for the historic and architectural treasures that they are, it’s no surprise that they are now among the most sought-after properties in the Greater Palm Springs area’s real estate market.”

The Heritage Fund was established as a 501 ( c ) 4 organization specifically to support local political candidates who share preservationists’ views about Palm Springs’ historic modern architectural heritage.  While tickets to the home tour are not tax deductible, funds go toward political endeavors to protect this heritage.

Pamela Bieri