Mid-century/desert modern houses
Located in the rocky northwest corner of Palm Springs, just south of Chino Canyon on the edge of the Little Tuscany neighborhood, sit half a dozen or so architecturally significant private homes built between the mid 1940s and the late 1960s. Although some of the houses are not as visible from the street as most modernists would prefer, there’s still enough to see and appreciate in this area to make a bicycle ride or leisurely drive worthwhile.
Carey/Pirozzi House (651 W. Via Escuela) – Palm Springs modernist architect Albert Frey designed this compact classic in 1956, which he inventively perched on stilts due to the sloping hillside it sits on.
Alexander/May House (424 W. Vista Chino) – California modernist architect Edward Fickett designed this home in 1951 for his friend and colleague George Alexander, of the Alexander Construction Co., who then sold it to Tom May, of the May Department Stores family.
Kaufmann Desert House (470 W. Vista Chino) – Considered by many to be one of the world’s most important mid-century modern structures, the “machine in the desert” as it’s called, was designed by legendary modernist architect Richard Neutra and built in 1946. Read more here.
Raymond Loewy House (600 W. Panorama Rd.) – Built in 1947 for famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy (who created Coca-Cola’s iconic soda bottle design), Albert Frey helped pioneer the desert modern style with this home. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places but is unfortunately not clearly visible from the street (therefore no photos).
Edna Root Shaprio House (711 W. Panorma Rd.) – San Francisco heiress and art collector Edna Root Shapiro commissioned architect Michael Black to design her home with a slightly quirky twist on the modernist esthetic – Black succeeded, circa, 1969.
Franz Alexander House (1011 W. Cielo Dr.) – Walter S. White designed several unique mid-century homes and buildings in the Coachella Valley before leaving the area in 1960. This one, circa 1955, with its simple concave curved roof, is a stand-out.
Palevsky House (1021 W. Cielo Dr.) – Designed by L.A.-based modernist architect Craig Ellwood for computer pioneer & philanthropist Max Palevsky, this is a minimalist’s dream; an elegant white jewel set amongst the desert boulders.
Edris House (1030 W. Cielo Dr.) – This Designated Class 1 Historic home by Palm Springs modernist architect E. Stewart Williams is an exceptional example of organic modernist design, the house looks like it’s literally growing out of the ground. Circa 1953.
For an interactive map of Palm Springs neighborhoods, click here. ..and as always, be respectful of homeowner’s privacy.
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