southridge palm springs

Saving Architectural History

The City of Palm Springs Historic Site Preservation Board 's annual preservation symposium focuses on historical and architectural diversity.

Cindy Harding Current Digital, History, Modernism

southridge palm springs

Southridge was the vision of a contractor, a teacher, and a tile seller that entered into a partnership to create one of most exclusive hillside residential developments in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs is often called the mecca of midcentury modern architecture and indeed, during the 1920s and ‘30s, visionary architects came to the city and brought their own spin on Bauhaus and the International Style, creating an entirely new genre, Desert Modernism.

“Our city has a range of significant and compelling architectural styles over the past 125 years,” says Katherine Hough, chair of the Palm Springs Historic Site Preservation Board. “While modernist architecture draws a great deal of interest, there are many other historic buildings in a variety of styles and historic periods. From the rare adobe and rock houses built in the Araby cove in the 1920s, to the dramatic and diverse architecture built on Southridge — Palm Springs has a wealth of architectural styles to discover.”

The City of Palm Springs Historic Site Preservation Board is inviting the public to explore that historic architecture during its eighth annual Preservation Matters Symposium, April 23-24, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. This year’s theme is “Historical and Architectural Diversity,” featuring experts and scholars, many who reside in the desert communities, presenting educational and informative sessions.

Take a tour of the Randolph Scott residence, built in 1937, and restored by Stephen Eckles.

“(The) learning extends to all ages,’ says Hough. “There is even a session on “Preservation Through Education: Spanning from Sixth Grade to College, and includes architectural models made by students that are on view in the lobby during the symposium.” Student architects hail from St. Theresa School in Palm Springs, Palm Springs High School, and College of the Desert.

Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton will welcome attendees with her opening remarks at 1 p.m. April 23.

The afternoon continues with 15 sessions that reveal behind-the-scenes stories embracing preservation and celebrating the City of Palm Springs’ rich historical, cultural, and architectural heritage. Hosts Trina Turk and Jade Nelson will introduce the sessions.

Highlights include 12 tours such as interior and exterior views of estates beyond the Southridge gate; actor Randolph Scott’s secluded residence; houses by Charles E. Du Bois that are more than just an “A” frame; and what the Aluminaire House means to the community.

Rounding out the program is a comprehensive review of newly designated properties highlighted in a descriptive and illustrated presentation. Participants will also learn about plans for preserving The Town & Country Center in downtown Palm Springs along with the history of the Plaza Theatre and plans for its restoration and future use.

Two members of the preservation community will receive recognition awards for their outstanding achievements, both presented by Middleton and city council members. The “Preservation Matters Award” will be presented to Dick Burkett and “Certificate of Recognition” to Steven Keylon.

The entrance to the Southgate community.

Discussions will also point to the  significant role preservation plays in the economic opportunities for local businesses and the real estate industry.

“In my opinion, preservation in our community has a growing public and economic benefit, and in a way, I would say that preservation drives our economy,” Hough says.

 "One example is Modernism Week that attracts people from all over the globe to participate in the many events that generate revenues for various local partner organizations such as Palm Springs Art Museum, Historical Society, Palm Springs Modern Committee, Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, and many others. Revenues from ticket sales, fundraising events, and donations enable the organizations to fund civic improvements and preserve historic buildings — the Plaza Theatre is one example.”

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