The Alexander Estate is available for rent through Natural Retreats.

Local Architecture Tour Highlights Modernism in Palm Springs

At a young age, Michael Stern found a passion for architecture that led to his creation of The Modern Tour.

June Allan Corrigan Modernism

The Alexander Estate is available for rent through Natural Retreats.

The Alexander Estate (#4398) is available for rent through Natural Retreats.

When Michael Stern was about 4 years old, a trip to pick up his grandfather at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York sparked a lifelong interest in midcentury-modern architecture. Lucky for Stern, his adopted hometown of Palm Springs has plenty.

In 2010, the NYC transplant —  an artist and architectural historian — launched The Modern Tour, which offers a luxury, insider peek at some of the most spectacular residences in the desert.

Fortunate enough to have known many of the prominent midcentury architects personally, Stern often dispels myths about Palm Springs properties. “I’ve heard it from the source. It’s important to me that our tours be historically accurate.”

Daily and corporate tours are available year-round.

What sets your tours apart?

The fact that we can go inside the houses!

Favorite stops?

Since we’re the official tour of the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, we often visit Frey House II, and we can sit on the furniture there. We’ll stay awhile, I’ll answer questions, and people get to know one another. The social aspect enhances the experience.

Craziest coincidence?

The disparate groups of people we put together often become quite chatty among themselves. One time, a guest was bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t find the brand of yogurt he loved in town. Another guest turned to him and said, “I happen to own the company. I’ll make sure you get your yogurt!”

Armando’s Bar

Michael Stern at Monet House Giverny. 

Ultimate goal?

Sometimes, half of a couple is a freak for modernism while the other person is simply tagging along. Our tours are really fun, and we provide a lot of Palm Springs context. It’s rewarding to engage people and make them realize how unique the town is.

Recommendations for die-hard architecture fans?

Modernism Week is a must, of course. I also recommend they download the Palm Springs Modern app to GPS themselves around town. Palm Springs is so architecturally rich, and there are entire neighborhoods just waiting to be explored.