Ship of the Desert

Streamline moderne houses

Resembling an ocean liner beached on the desert mountainside, the “ship of the desert” was designed by Erle Webster and Adrian Wilson in 1936 as a winter retreat for the Davidson family, a department store dynasty from the Eastern U.S.

Its namesake was launched on the cover of Sunset Magazine in 1937 and the home’s Streamline Moderne design was hailed by California Arts & Architecture magazine, at the time, as nothing short of revolutionary, influencing the regions burgeoning modernist movement and inspiring architects such as Richard Neutra and Albert Frey, who would build in Palm Springs the following decade.

In 1998, fashion designer Trina Turk and her photographer husband Jonathan Skow purchased the property with plans for an extensive restoration but during the house’s rehab it was destroyed in a fire. Undeterred, the duo rebuilt from the ground up using the original plans as a road map and restoring the “ship of the desert” to all its former Streamline Moderne glory.

Today, the house has received Historic Site status from the city of Palm Springs, and is located in The Mesa neighborhood.

For an interactive map of Palm Springs neighborhoods, click here. ..and as always, be respectful of homeowner’s privacy.

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