Walking through Modernism in Palm Springs

Last year we had such a good time exploring Palm Springs, we decided to visit again during Modernism Week in February. Palm Springs was a getaway spot for Hollywood stars, beginning in the 1940s and then for those who could afford a vacation home. The style of architecture, mid-century Modernism, dominates the town. Mid-twentieth century, that is. Mission–style homes and new LEED certified complexes also make up the architecture of Palm Springs.

Royal Hawaiian Estates Poster

Tiki without Tacky – Royal Hawaiian Estates

Royal Hawaiian Outrigger Palm Springs

Our first tour was of the Royal Hawaiian Estates, a small complex designed by architects Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison. Built in 1960, the tiki elements are being restored and the tour raised money to restore more. We were able to see several units. The owners have lovingly restored the interiors and decorated to the time. Homes are small – originally designed for vacation living. Today, they are totally livable for the year-round residents.

Palm Springs Modernism Week Royal Hawaiin Kitchen

Palm Springs Modernism Week Royal Hawiian Living Room

Palm Springs Modernism Week Royal Hawiian Living Room

Palm Springs Modernism Week Royal Hawaiin Patio

Seven Lakes Country Club

Palm Springs Modernism Week 7 Lakes Golf Course

Palm Springs has many golf courses and this tour was spread around the course and seven lakes. Also designed by Richard Harrison, it opened in 1965. The course was designed by Ted Robinson. Most homes were done in the mid-century mode and beautifully restored – some had ‘caved’ to our more modern tastes. Slightly more spacious than Royal Hawaiian Estates, many boasted a secluded courtyard, with golf course and mountain views.

Palm Springs Modernism Week 7 Lakes Pool

Palm Springs Modernism Week 7 Lakes Dining Room

Palm Springs Modernism Week 7 Lakes Bedroom

Palm Springs Modernism Week 7 Lakes Hallway

Palm Springs Modernism Week 7 Lakes Entrance

Sunnylands

Walter and Leonore Annenberg built a 25k sq ft home, 5 bedroom guest house, 9 course golf course, and filled 200 acres against the desert of Palm Springs. They hosted U.S. Presidents and heads of state.  Walter Annenberg made huge amounts of money on TV Guide and Seventeen, yet they were widely philanthropic. The Trust, they left behind opened a center at Sunnylands last year. We walked around the center and gardens and were then given a tour of the Annenberg’s Sunnylands. I would have loved more time with their art collection, but the real paintings are at the Met in New York. That’s another trip.

Palm Springs Modernism Week Annenberg Sunnylands Garden

Palm Springs Modernism Week Annenberg Entrance

Palm Springs Modernism Week Annenberg Sunnylands House

Hotels

At The Saguro, a converted Holiday Inn, we visited an exhibit about Pan American Airlines. Pan Am created air travel after World War II and made it an elegant affair. For the exhibit, a former employee displayed his collection of Pan Am paraphenlia from ashtrays to uniforms. Looking back in time was a treat – to when air travel was exciting fun and products were well made. Imaging stewardess uniforms created by Edith Head and Evan Picone. The Saguro hotel is a delight itself, with bright colors inside and out.

Palm Springs Modernism Week Saguro Exterior

Palm Springs Modernism Week Saguro Interior

Palm Springs Modernism Week Saguro Window

Old Las Palmas

We took a stroll around one of the neighborhoods near downtown Palm Springs. Many seem to have taken on the secrecy, privacy and security of Hollywood stars, but they make it look so beautiful. Most of Palm Springs is flat and sometimes the sidewalks disappear, but the traffic is light – just heads up on a walk.

Palm Springs Modernism Week Las Palmas Home

Palm Springs Modernism Week Las Palmas Entrance

More next time on the natural beauty of the Palm Springs area.

For last years visit, click on Walking in Palm Springs – the modernism pictures are at the end.

Check out the Palm Springs Modernism site – there might be events in October – don’t forget to sign up for next February.

Text by Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

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