Must-See Midcentury Gems

Discover Palm Springs’ exemplary modern architecture on your own with this self-guided tour.

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photo by gregg felsen

St. Theresa Catholic Church, with its distinct, upswept center, was designed in 1968 by architect William Cody, who curated every design detail, including the stained glass and door handles. Located at 2800 E. Ramon Road. 

 

photo by jay jorgensen

The Alexander houses, 330 cutting-edge homes with a variety of soaring rooflines, minimalist façades, and curb appeal were built in the late ’50s by father and son team George and Robert Alexander. Visit the Twin Palms, Vista Las Palmas, and Racquet Club Estates neighborhoods to admire these iconic beauties also known as “Butterfly” Alexanders. 

 

photo by dan chavkin

The winged Palm Springs Visitor Center, originally the Tramway Gas Station, was designed by Albert Frey in 1964. Situated in the northernmost area of Palm Springs, it is an elegant welcome to town. Located at 2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive.

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF PALM SPRINGS LIFE ARCHIVES

The Palm Springs City Hall — a collaboration of John Porter Clark, Albert Frey, Robson C. Chambers, and E. Stewart Williams — features diverse architectural elements such as shade shields, aluminum screens, and a portico overhang with a cut-through that encircles two palm trees. Located at 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way.

 

photo by jay jorgensen

The House of Tomorrow, nestled in the Palm Springs hills, is also known as Elvis and Priscilla’s honeymoon house. It was designed by the architectural firm of Palmer and Krisel and built by Robert Alexander, who lived in the house with his wife Helen. Located at 1350 Ladera Circle.

 

photo by stuart funk

Coachella Valley Savings and Loan (now Chase Bank) displays long vertical bands of bronze siding floating on a concrete base above a shallow pond featuring a procession of small fountains. Tall white arches complete the look of the building’s façade, designed in 1960 by architect E. Stewart Williams. Located at 499 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

 

photo by stuart funk

Architect Richard Neutra’s 1947 sleek and horizontal Kaufmann House — made of glass, steel, and stone — is the masterwork that put Palm Springs’ modern architecture on the map. Located at 470 W. Vista Chino.

 

photo by gregg felsen

Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison’s Steel Houses are seven prefabricated units made from light gauge steel and glass. This innovative design, sponsored by U.S. Steel in the early 1960s, was affordable and suitable for the desert, specifically in the windy part of Palm Springs. Located between East Molino Road and North Sunnyview Drive. 

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