Newhall / DeGraff Residence Coming Back to Life...
George Almer Newhall, Sr. / LeGrand Simson DeGraff Residence (1928, Architect Unknown)
535 Tamarisk Road
This large (4,700 sq. ft.) and beautifully detailed Spanish Colonial Revival style Movie Colony home on a 1.6 acre site has been vacant for years. The main house has 5 bedrooms and 5 baths, each featuring original intact ceramic tile work. The public rooms face southward opening onto a rear courtyard with a fountain. The property also has a detached guest house containing 2 bedrooms, 2 baths a kitchen and a 2 car garage. Much of the original architecture is intact including a beautiful wood-beamed ceiling in the living room. Also included on the property are a swimming pool, tennis courts, potting shed, and rose garden. It has recently changed hands and restoration work is underway. Although the Riverside County Assessor’s office shows this property as having been built in 1934, additional information recently uncovered suggests otherwise. The 1929 Palm Springs City Directory lists George A. Newhall (1862-1929) at this address. Newhall was the youngest of five sons born to William Mayo Newhall. Although the house appears to have been architect-designed, no records have been located to verify this assumption. The 1987 HSPB List refers to the property as the Newhall / Tackett Residence.
George and Caroline Newhall Residence, Hillsborough
For his northern California home, Newhall built a large French Renaissance Revival-style mansion located at 1761 Manor Dr., in Hillsborough, California. Named “La Dolphine”, it was designed in 1912 by important Bay Area architect Lewis Hobart and completed in 1914. The Newhall Residence was listed on the National Register in 2007. It is not known if Newhall (who died in 1929) ever actually occupied the Palm Springs house but it appears that it was custom built for him and for its style, it compares favorably with his Hillsborough home.
According to historian Tracy Conrad, an article in a 1931 California Arts & Architecture magazine contains information indicating that the George Newhall Residence in Palm Springs was sold to LeGrand DeGraff. DeGraff’s father, James, was one of the first bank presidents in the upstate New York town of North Tonawanda. Their son LeGrand Simson DeGraff was born March 30, 1871. He attended Lima College near Geneva, New York.
LeGrand DeGraff (1871-1960) managed A. Weston & Son Lumber Company. He and his associates sponsored the construction a new hospital, named for the family in recognition of the contributions of DeGraff's father to the civic and economic life of the Tonawandas. DeGraff stipulated that the indigent of the communities were to receive free hospital care, and the two cities were to maintain the hospital property. If the hospital failed to meet these conditions, the property would revert to the donors for disposal with the proceeds to be divided according to the proportion of each donor's original contribution.
According to the City Directories, LeGrand DeGraff and his wife Norma, who wintered in Palm Springs, resided at 535 Tamarisk beginning in 1933 thru and extending until at least 1953 and possibly until his death in 1960. In their absence, the home was maintained by caretakers Foster H and Bertha Ferguson. A 1933 article from the North Tonawanda NY Evening News indicates that “LeGrand S. DeGraff of Goundry Street left yesterday to motor to Palm Springs for the remainder of the winter. Mrs. DeGraff will leave by train, in a few days, for Palm Springs. A photograph in the Albert C. Doane Collection at the Ohio Historical Society shows the launching of a ship named in honor of LeGrand S. DeGraff built by the American Shipbuilding Company. The ship was a lake freighter built to transport bulk products such as iron ore and coke. By 1952, American Shipbuilding Company was the largest shipbuilder on the Great Lakes.
After four years in Palm Springs, I'm learning to love the town's old and new buildings. This blog will post information about some of them from time to time. I'm thinking it will be part Architecture Appreciation, part architectural criticism. My architectural travel notes wil be posted on http://patrickstravelnotes.blogspot.com/. Over time, they might serve as an archive of the local architectural scene and a view out into the rest of the world.
Comments, corrections and new information are welcome...