Harriet Cody established the first riding stable in Palm Springs at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Ramon Road.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PALM SPRINGS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Harriet Cody arrived in Palm Springs in 1916, beginning a movement of significant pioneer women who were responsible for creating a community that later became a world-renowned winter resort.
Prior to coming to the desert, Cody lived in Philadelphia where she married a promising young architect, Harold William (Bill) Bryant Cody. He was hired by an architectural firm located in San Francisco. The couple moved across the county and Bill Cody contracted tuberculosis. The couple decided to move from San Francisco to Palm Springs hoping that the warmer, dryer climate would aid in his recovery.
Harold Cody was commissioned to be part of the design team working on the extensive remodel of the Mission Inn in Riverside. He was also hired by Chicago heiress, Lois Kellogg, to design and supervise construction of her Moroccan-inspired compound. He suffered recurrent bouts of pneumonia and was unable to complete her project that become known as “Fool’s Folly.”
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Harriet Cody took the last of their savings and purchased a piece of property. It was not long before Cody’s money ran out. An accomplished horsewoman in both the English and Western traditions, she decided to open a livery stable and rent horses to guests staying at The Desert Inn. She also boarded horses for visitors that included movie cowboys like Tom Mix and Jack Holt who came to film in the desert.
Harold (Bill) Cody died in 1924 and Harriet realized that she could not make a living just renting horses. She bought four cottages from the California Exposition and added landlady and innkeeper to her resume and opened Casa Cody. The hotel is still in operation, located at 175 S. Cahuilla Road, making it the oldest hotel in the city of Palm Springs.
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There is a multitude of ways to learn more about Palm Springs, which turned 82 in 2020. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.
The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today.
For more information, visit pshistoricalsociety.org, or visit their location at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive.