Sunday, September 27, 2009

Grey Gardens in Palm Springs?

I recently stumbled onto this forlorn estate that is surrounded by numerous abandoned-looking cars of some vintage. A little research uncovered the following:
"At the depth of the depression, [Wallace] Neff’s wealthy playboy client [Singer Sewing Company heir] Arthur K Bourne acquired a fine lot in Palm Springs, one of the few towns in the region which was still booming. It was becoming popular with the film colony and with Pasadena socialites wealthy enough to be unaffected by bad times. The house the architect built on the property was an attempt to fuse the Mediterranean Revival with the modern style - to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The dwelling was disposed around three sides of a patio, with a swimming pool at the center. Most of Neff’s swimming pools up to that time had been in Beverly Hills, and they had usually been well removed from the house. But the central location was appropriate since this was a vacation retreat, but such a location was more characteristic of modern than Mediterranean Revival site planning. The modernity of the patio was diluted by making the bedroom wings identical and adding a circular ornamental fountain from which water spouted into the pool. Thus the place took on the air of an exotic North African desert oasis. Neff used almost a whole wall of sliding doors to make the living room an indoor-outdoor room in the modern manner and the simple, almost brutal, almost flat shed roofs had a modern look which was negated by the red tiles used as a covering material.
There was a separate wing for the servants rooms and kitchen on the north, while the two front doors were a reflection of the Bournes hospitality. The north door was for guests who might come and go without disturbing family members in the south wing. Neff grasped the possibilities of Palm Springs readily, as demonstrated by the inclusion of a small second story room and loggia. By climbing only one flight to this mirador, one can enjoy a view all over the valley. The house has had several owners, but has never been drastically altered."

-Alson Clark
Wallace Neff: Architect of California’s Golden Age

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Perlin Residence - Los Angeles

The Steel Houses of Palm Springs are almost legendary. They are the work of architects Wexler & Harrison, with engineering provided by Bernie Perlin. What most people don't realize is that Wexler designed a house for Perlin that was built before the Palm Springs houses. The house is essentially unchanged, and still owned and occupied by Bernie Perlin. Mid-Century modernism...untouched. Wow!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Children's Discovery Museum - Rancho Mirage

Just driving along Gerald Ford Drive in Ranch Mirage when I discovered this wonderful building. It is rare to find architecture this good in the Coachella Valley. Thank you Children's Discovery Museum.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Araby Dude Ranch

This compound, on the south end of Araby Drive, is one of the best-kept secrets of old Palm Springs. I am told it was an early Dude Ranch, possibly from the 1920s. It is a cluster of deteriorating buildings that included a couple of residences, a corral and stable, and a swimming pool surrounded by low walls. All are made of stone. Nearly abandoned, and occasionbally guarded by an eccentric (and a little scary) gentleman on a bicycle, the place exudes great charm...and the mystery of an architectural dig. Hope somebody pays attention to this place before it disappears entirely,

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I ran across this remodeled Alexander the other day; what were they thinking....?