The Time: Modern

Highlights in the development of modernism in the Coachella Valley.



Peter Moruzzi Collection.




Highlights in the development of modernism in Palm Springs.


1922 –   
R. M. Schindler designs the first modern building in the desert: a cabin for Paul and Betty Popenoe in Coachella.
1923 –   
Palm Springs Historical Society
The Oasis Hotel, a modern masterpiece in slip-form concrete, is designed by Lloyd Wright, Frank’s son. It opens in 1925. 
1928 –   
Palm Springs Historical Society
El Mirador Hotel opens on New Year’s Eve.
1933 –   
William Gray Purcell builds a cubist modern house with protégé Evera Van Bailey. 
1934 –   
Palm Springs Historical Society
Albert Frey designs (with New York partner A. Lawrence Kocher) the Kocher-Samson office building on North Palm Canyon Drive, an important international style structure.
1935 –   
The avant garde, all-concrete Community Church on Baristo Road, designed by Charles Tanner, is built.
1936 –   
Palm Springs Life Archives
The Plaza Shopping Center, designed by Harry Williams, is introduced as one of the first car-oriented shopping centers in the nation. 
1936 –   
Palm Springs Historical Society
Earle Webster and Adrian Wilson design a streamline/nautical moderne house known as “The Ship of the Desert.” 
1937 –   
Palm Springs Life Archives
Richard Neutra designs the Grace Lewis Miller house, which includes her Mensendieck posture therapy studio. 
1938 -39 –   
Peter Moruzzi Collection
Welwood Murray Library is designed by John Porter Clark. 
1939 –   
Palm Springs Historical Society
John Porter Clark builds an international style house for himself on the former El Mirador golf course. 
1939 –   
Palm Springs Historical Society
John Porter Clark designs the Palm Springs Women’s Club.
1946 –   
Albert Frey builds a house for famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy in what becomes the desert modern architectural style that he and others pioneer. 
1946 –   
Albert Frey builds Villa Hermosa Resort, an ode to international style modernism.
1946-47 –   
J. Paul Getty Trust. Used with permission.
Julius Shulman Photographic Archive Research
Library at the Getty Research Institute
Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann house, where photographer Julius Shulman would take one of his most famous photographs, is built on West Vista Chino. 
1947 –   
Peter Moruzzi Collection
E. Stewart Williams designs a house for Frank Sinatra with a pool shaped like a piano.

Read "The House He Lived In" from the February 1996 issue of Palm Springs Life.
1947 –   
Walter Wurdeman and Welton Becket design Bullock’s department store (now demolished).
1947 –  
Michael Stern
R.M. Schindler builds the Maryon Toole House in Palm Desert. 
1947 –   
Palm Springs Art Museum Collection
William F. Cody designs the Del Marcos Motel, which wins an American Institute of Architects prize. 
1947 –   
A. Quincy Jones and Paul R. Williams design mountainside additions to the Tennis Club. 
1947 –   
Scott Van Dyke/Courtesy Desert Hot Springs Motel
John Lautner designs a striking, geometric modern motel in Desert Hot Springs.
1947–1950 –   
Palm Springs Life Archives
Town & Country Center, designed by A. Quincy Jones and Paul R. Williams, is built downtown in the late Moderne style. 
1948 –   
Palm Springs Life Archives
Biltmore Hotel, designed by Fred Monhoff, opens (recently demolished for condominiums).
1952 –   
The Oasis commercial building, an early international style structure, is designed by E. Stewart Williams and erected adjacent to Lloyd Wright’s Oasis Hotel tower. Paul R. Williams designs the interiors. 
1952 –   
William F. Cody designs L’Horizon Hotel for Hollywood power couple Jack Wrather and Bonita Granville.
1952-1957 –   
Tom Brewster
Palm Springs City Hall, designed by Albert Frey and John Porter Clark and the firm of Williams, Williams & Williams, is built. 
1953 –   
J. Paul Getty Trust. Used with permission.
Julius Shulman Photographic Archive Research
Library at the Getty Research Institute
Albert Frey remodels the desert modern house he built for himself in 1940 and adds a futuristic, spaceship-like second story.
1953 –   
E. Stewart Williams’ Edris House is built. 
Circa 1953 –   
Thunderbird Country Club
William Cody remodels the clubhouse at Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage (recently rebuilt).
1953 –   
William Cody designs the clubhouse at Tamarisk Country Club in Rancho Mirage (now extensively altered).
1956 –   
Palm Springs Historical Society
Ocotillo Lodge, a collaboration between the Alexander Co. and the architectural firm of William Krisel and Dan Saxon Palmer, opens.
1956 –   
Albert Frey designs the compact Carey-Pirozzi house, perched on stilts on a sloping lot.
1957 –   
Twin Palms, tract homes designed by the architectural firm of Palmer and Krisel, are built for the Alexander Co. They sell quickly, establishing a template for affordable modern homes. They are the first of more than 2,500 Alexander homes built here.  2,500 Alexander homes built here. 
1957 –   
Bill Anderson/Courtesy Palm Springs Historical Society
William Cody’s Huddle Springs restaurant, a superior example of Googie style, opens. 
1957 –   
Albert Frey designs Christian Science Church with concrete block and screen wall forms. 
1957-1958 –   
Hugh Kaptur’s Impala Lodge (now Triangle Inn) is built with fantastic forms and painted icons. 
1958 –  
Richard Pereira and Charles Luckman design the Robinson’s department store on Palm Canyon Drive.  
1958 –   
Palm Springs Life Archives
Ground is broken for the Sandpiper condominium development in Palm Desert, designed by William Krisel, who also designed the landscape architecture. 
1958 –   
Palm Springs Historical Society
Santa Fe Federal Savings Building designed by E. Stewart Williams with wraparound glass walls, is built on South Palm Canyon Drive.
1959 –   
Bill Anderson/Courtesy Palm Springs Historical Society
City National Bank (now Bank of America) opens. It is designed by Victor Gruen Associates as an homage to Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp chapel, built five years earlier.
1959 –   
Peter Moruzzi Collection
Construction begins on the Spa Bathhouse and Hotel, designed by William Cody, Donald Wexler, Richard Harrison, and others. 
1959 –   
William Cody and Ernest Kump design the clubhouse at Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells (now extensively altered). 
1960 –   
E. Stewart Williams designs the Coachella Valley Savings and Loan (now Washington Mutual) building at South Palm Canyon Drive and Ramon Road. 
1960 –   
Palm Springs Life Archives
Alpha Beta Shopping Center, designed by Albert Frey, is built (now demolished and replaced by Ralphs Shopping Center, designed by James Cioffi with a nod to Frey’s design).
1960 –   
Howard and Lawrence Lapham design the 666 Palm Canyon Drive office building. 
1960-62 –   
William Cody designs a futuristic gas station on North Palm Canyon Drive.
1961-62 –   
Seven experimental steel houses, some with folded plate roofs, designed by Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison, are built.  
1962 –   
Palm Springs Life Archives
Don Saxon Palmer and William Krisel build “The House of Tomorrow,” best known as the honeymoon hideaway of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. 
1963 –   
The Maslon house, designed by Richard Neutra, is built at Tamarisk Country Club in Rancho Mirage. 
1963 –   
Albert Frey builds another house for himself (Frey II) on a steep lot with a boulder as a room divider and practical aluminum roof. 
1963- 1965 –   
Michael Stern
Albert Frey and Robson Chambers’ Tramway gas station (now Palm Springs Visitors Center), is built on North Palm Canyon Drive.  
1964 –   
Hugh Kaptor designs a yellow brick fire station at Via Miraleste and Racquet Club Road.
1968 –   
John Lautner designs the Elrod House, famed for its part in the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever.
1968 –   
Peter Moruzzi Collection
St. Theresa Parish Church, designed by William Cody, is dedicated. 
1968-1970 –   
Craig Ellwood designs the Max Palevsky House. 
1973 –   
Palm Springs Life Archives
John Lautner designs the turtle-shell roofed Bob Hope home.
1975 –   
Michael Stern
William Cody designs the Palm Springs Library Center. 
1976 –   
Michael Stern
Palm Springs Desert Museum, designed by E. Stewart Williams, opens. 
1978 –   
Peter Moruzzi Collection
The low-slung, organic Charthouse restaurant (now Haleiwa Joe’s) designed by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg opens in Rancho Mirage.
1993 –   
Marmol Radziner Associates begins to restore Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House. 
1997 –   
Palm Springs Preservation Foundation is founded. 
1999 –   
Jay Jorgensen
Palm Springs Modern Committee is founded to save the 1955 Albert Frey-designed Fire Station No. 1 from being torn down for a parking garage.
1999 –   
Rizzoli Books
Rizzoli International publishes Palm Springs Modern by Adele Cygelman with photography by David Glomb.
1999 –   
Palm Springs Desert Museum initiates annual Architecture and Design Symposium.
2000 –   
Palm Springs’ annual Modernism Show is inaugurated.
2000 –   
Palm Springs Modern Committee begins its annual Modern Home Tour. 
2001 –   
David Glomb/Courtesy Orbit Inn
Orbit In, a motel designed in 1947 by Herbert Burns, is renovated in iconic style, prompting the renovation of other period motels. 
2001 –   
Chronicle Books
 Palm Springs Weekend: The Architecture and Design of a Midcentury Oasis by Alan Hess and Andrew Danish is published by Chronicle Books.
2001 –   
Palm Springs Historic Site Foundation sponsors “When Mod Went Mass: A Celebration of Alexander Homes,” a weekend tour/celebration. Celebrations in succeeding years honor desert Polynesia, William F. Cody, Spanish Colonial Revival, and E. Sterwart Williams.nish colonial revival, and E. Stewart Williams. 
2001 –   
Architectural expert Robert Imber begins Palm Springs Modern Tours. 760-318-6118
2002 –   
 
David Glomb
The Maslon house in Rancho Mirage, designed by Richard Neutra in 1963, is summarily demolished without city review, setting off an international outcry.
2002 –   
Palm Springs Modern Committee presents its inaugural Modern Preservation Awards. 
2004 –   Courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum.
Courtesy Palm Springs Art Museum.
Palm Springs Desert Museum changes its name to Palm Springs Art Museum and emphasizes modern architecture with its exhibitions and Architecture and Design Council lectures. 
2005  -   
Marmol Radziner Prefab builds the Desert House in Desert Hot Springs.
2005 –   
Maxx Livingstone Modern Homes
Maxx Livingstone Modern Homes reintroduces William Krisel’s original Alexander home designs with updated features. 
2005 –   
Palm Springs Art Museum Collection
Palm Springs Modern Committee issues its first lifetime achievement award posthumously to E. Stewart Williams.
2006 –   
Peter Moruzzi Collection
Palm Springs Modern Committee founder Peter Moruzzi produces Desert Holiday, a DVD documentary with narrated history of the Coachella Valley using vintage postcards.
2006 –   
The first feature-length documentary on postwar architecture in the desert, Desert Utopia: Mid-century Architecture in Palm Springs, is released.
2006 –   
Dwell magazine presents a conference (“Dwell on Design”) on postwar architecture and design in Palm Springs.
2007 –   
Palm Springs Modern Homes
Palm Springs Modern Homes, Modern Living Spaces, Contempo Homes, and others replicate midcentury modern homes.
2008 –   
Palm Springs Art Museum exhibits Julius Shulman/Palm Springs, Feb. 20-May 18



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