Mid-century/desert modern houses
Some of Palm Springs’ most iconic and architecturally significant homes are not visible from the street; obscured by locked gates or hidden behind tall walls.
In the case of Southridge, a gated community located in South Palm Springs’ San Jacinto Hills, there are a handful of notable homes – designed by modernist architects such as John Lautner and Hugh Kaptur – which can be seen at a distance from the nearby Araby hiking trail.
If you’re a fit modernist who can handle a 6 mile round-trip climb, up and down a steep canyon trail with no shade (bring lots of water!), then consider this as a good location from which to view some homes you wouldn’t normally be able to see… click on addresses below for Google Map locations.
Rimcrest (Araby Trailhead) – Originally known as Tropic Hills Estates when it opened in the mid 1960s, architects Leroy Rose and Harold Carslon designed 50 uniquely cantilevered condominiums built right into the hillside, offering owners sweeping million dollar views of the Coachella Valley. Rimcrest can be clearly viewed from Hwy 111, but if hiking the Araby trail you’ll walk along the perimeter of this unique modernist development for a close-up experience.
Elrod House (2175 Southridge Drive, private road) – Designed in 1968 by esteemed modernist architect John Lautner for designer Arthur Elrod, and featured in the 1971 James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, the Elrod House is literally built into the mountainside and features retractable curved walls of glass and a conical domed roof that sits atop a large circular living space. The home exemplifies mid-century cool and is one of the most iconic modernist houses in the world.
Steve McQueen House (2203 Southridge Drive, private road) – Originally designed for a different client, in the mid ’60s, before being purchased by movie star Steve McQueen, modernist architect Hugh Kaptur told Palm Springs Life Magazine in 2008, “I was experimenting with the Neutra look,” referring to the home’s floor-to-ceiling glass and floating elements. Kaptur’s style evolved in the years that followed and moved away from “the Neutra look,” but today the Steve McQueen house still retains its indefinable timeless quality, which is a credit due to Kaptur.
William Holden House (2433 Southridge Drive, private road) – Actor William Holden wanted to trade up his home in the Deepwell Estates neighborhood for something larger, so in 1977 he commissioned Hugh Kaptur to design this 8,000 sq. ft. estate in the San Jacinto Hills overlooking the Coachella Valley. Holden was later credited with solidifying the Southridge area’s “exclusivity” cache, while Kaptur and his body of work would be rediscovered and featured, over 30 years later, in the 2013 documentary film Quiet Elegance.
Bob Hope House (2466 Southridge Drive, private road) – Architect John Lautner pushed the boundaries of design and polarized critics when the Bob Hope house completed construction in 1979 after years of set-backs. Its undulating concrete and copper clad roof line, meant to resemble a volcano, was derided by critics who complained it looked like a giant mushroom or spaceship. The Bob Hope house has stood the test of time though, and is a remarkable piece of engineering as well as a true Palm Springs icon.
For an interactive map of Palm Springs neighborhoods, click here. ..and as always, be respectful of homeowner’s privacy.
Hiking is not recommended during the warmer months. For hiking tips, check out VisitPalmSprings.com.
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