Let's kick it off with a walking tour of Palm Springs' historic star studded Vista Las Palmas neighborhood. My mom and I started off at 9AM on a beautiful Palm Springs morning on Monday, February 17, 2014.
I took notes on my iPhone as we headed off on the tour so that I could properly notate my pictures. **Ahem** Steve Jobs spell correct strikes again. My notes are, at best, cryptic. But I will try and hopefully Mom will chime in once this posts.
The whole Vista Las Palmas area is stunning. Last year we did a bus tour (more appropriately a hedge tour) and whipped through this neighborhood. Much better on foot. I took many pictures of the inspiring mid-century homes and yards. When I can remember the famous person that once lived there, I'll clue ya in.
From the neighborhood website:
In Vista Las Palmas, the firm of Palmer and Krisel, as well as architect Charles Dubois, designed approximately 330 homes. William Krisel contributed his iconic “butterfly” roof houses, a folded plate roof design, and several others. Charles Dubois created the distinctive “Swiss Miss” A-frame, among others. The mix of designs creates one of the most varied, yet cohesive neighborhoods in Palm Springs, and it is always a stop on any architectural tour of the area.
There were so many celebrities living in a few square miles that they must have been literally tripping all over each other. Our guide shared that Palm Springs became a celebrity rich nook of the country due to several reasons in no particular order:
- Proximity to the studios ... apparently movie stars under studio contract needed to stay within two hours distance (interesting),
- The ridiculously good winter weather,
- Tolerance of drugs, booze, gays,
- And, finally, a discreet citizenry who left celebrities alone.
At this point I need to confess that I have forgotten the name of our Palm Springs Historical Society tour guide. He did a fantastic job and we loved his inside information. He always cited his sources, and confessed to any theories of his own making. He mentioned that there are only 15 Swiss Misses, and the owners have their own club (which made me giggle a little). Originally, the Swiss Miss style was considered a bit pedestrian, but has now become classic, partially due to its rarity. I think they are adorable.
This is Marilyn Monroe's former home.
|Marilyn Monroe House Palm Springs Rancho Las Palmas|
Loved the brutalist mailbox.
|Brutalist Mailbox Rancho Las Palmas Palm Springs|
The orange gate, the block walls and grey paint are so now vs. mid-century. Back in the day they may have used light paint and pastels. However, this look is stunning and I covet it.
The ironwork on the gate and carport are perfect. And it is Sydney Sheldon's house!
The turquoise door and concrete pavers take my breath away. As does the natural rock wall and the slanted roof. A Krisel for sure.
This is Nat King Cole's house. His daughter lived here as well. So unassuming.
Excellent desert landscaping.
Swiss Miss alert!
Nobody famous but I loved the house back in its grove of Palm Springs trees. We planted one of the green ones in the foreground. I so want it to grow but the snails love it.
Elvis Presley famously honeymooned in the "House of the Future," by Palmer and Krisel. From the link, I absolutely need to get inside this house. Someday.
These are waterfall steps and apparently when you flip a switch, water rushes down.
Plan from our tour guide, more at About.com.
Neighbor and also a beautiful home.
This all white house is ahh-mazing. At some point, I may rip down our stucco wall and put up some mid-century modern concrete block. Retro Renovation has great sources.
This house was pointed out as a Krisel.
And then the owner pulled out in his Studebaker Avanti.
Another entryway that I admired.
Swiss Miss cutey-pie.
Concrete block and awesome wrought iron work. Yellow front door is very Palm Springs.
I doubt this gate is 50's but it is sooo cool and appropriate to the neighborhood.
Because of our landscaping project, I was especially on the lookout for good desert landscaping. This is quite nice.
Many of the historic neighborhoods have special signs designating them. Easy to spot!
I took a few pictures of this home. This is Dean Martin's original home. Our tour guide ended many of his speeches about stars' homes in relation to Frank Sinatra who was a big presence in Palm Springs. Dean and Frank had a falling out when Dean was devastated over the death of his son and put on a poor performance in one of Frank's shows. The saying is, "And he never spoke to him again." I guess Frank had a rather petty and vindictive side. My mom said this was pretty well known, even back in the day.
This is the entry to Peter Lawford's home and said to be the the site of a Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe rendezvous. Lawford married Pat Kennedy and Lawford introduced Marilyn to the Kennedy brothers. The home is assumed to be a Krisel. Frank was pissed off that Kennedy stayed with Lawford and he "never spoke to him again."
I loved this home and the gates.
Here is a weird one. This is the house Patty Hearst stayed in to recover after her prison time and the site of a scene from Behind the Candelabra.
And, this broken down pool was pointed out but I forget why! Terrible shape and a big estate. Mom thinks it was one of the studio heads homes. Like one of the Warner brothers or something. Sounds about right.
Every tour bus stops here. Interesting fact: these are the same Kaufmann's of FallingWater and Frank Lloyd Wright fame. Apparently Wright was angry that he didn't get the commission for this home. Which became, easily, the most important and famous piece of architecture in Palm Springs. Very interesting history of the house here.
This is the Frank Sinatra Twin Palms estate (versus the home Sinatra built for Kennedy to stay in, long story and led to not speaking to Peter Lawford).
See the famous "Twin Palms?" Apparently I cut them just off at the top. Boo.
Covert operation. I popped my camera over the wall. Don't judge as I know it is tilty.
Great walking tour and I highly recommend. Thank you Palm Spring Historical Society! I have a few more posts up my sleeve. The Signature Home tour was absolutely outstanding!
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