Palm Springs is an architectural playground, home to the largest collection of mid-century modern architecture in the USA. Architectural titans from John Lautner to Walter S White and E William Stewart all added to its distinctive landscape, honing an inimitable brand of Desert Modernism.
We’ve picked out the best mid-century Palm Springs homes for sale today. Some have been lovingly maintained, while others have been restored to their wood-panelled former glory – and some are ripe for renovation.
If you’re not looking to buy, you can still browse some of Palm Springs’ finest examples of Desert Modernism during Modernism Week (15-25 February).
Koerner House, 1275 South Calle de Maria
4 bedrooms; $3.5m via Erbe + Blackham
E Stewart Williams was a prolific Palm Springs architect who helped define the Desert Modernism movement in the city. He designed Koerner House in 1955 as a winter retreat for its original owners. Spanning 4,200 sqm, the Californian property has been faithfully preserved by its current owners, and its interiors feature teak panelled walls, a stone fireplace and clerestory windows overlooking Mount San Jacinto. The Palm Springs home is for sale for the first time in 20 years and comes with an indoor garden, Japanese teahouse and shuffleboard courts, which are set across one-acre grounds designed by the Office of Eckbo, Dean, Royston, and Williams.
Dr Alexander Franz House, Little Tuscany
3 bedrooms; $2.795m via Patrick Stewart Properties
Built in 1956 by architect Walter S White – who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf Schindler among others – Alexander House was designed for psychoanalyst Dr Alexander Franz in the Little Tuscany area of northern Palm Springs. Listed on the National Historic Register, the 3,200 sq ft property has lava stone walls and wooden ceilings, and original features including a chandelier by White and a black steel staircase by his contemporary Albert Frey. Main living areas occupy the upper floor of the two-storey house (which is supported by V-shaped steel leg supports) to capitalise on views of the landscape, with bedrooms are set below. Separate guest accommodation can be found (in miniature) in the garden.
Edris House, 1030 West Cielo Drive
3 bedrooms; $3.2m via TTK Represents
While E Stewart Williams completed many buildings in Palm Springs, he didn’t often accept private commissions, which makes Edris House (and Koerner House) all the more special. It was built for his friends, movie theatre and tomato farm-owner William Edris and his wife Marjorie in 1954 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. The couple gave Williams free rein designing the wood, stone, and glass house, which is set over a single level. It features floor-to-ceiling windows that look out across the Coachella Valley. Its present owner JR Roberts worked in consultation with Williams to restore the Palm Springs home – for sale via TTK Represents – to its original look back in 2000, based on photos taken of the property by Julius Shulman.
‘Wave House’, 73697 Santa Rosa Way
1 bedroom; via auction 24 February 2018 (no reserve)
Sadly not all Palm Springs’ modernist homes are treated equally: the landmark Miles C Bates House was built for the playboy artist in 1955 by his friend Walter S White, but it’s fallen on hard times in recent years. In an effort to preserve the iconic Palm Springs house – the only one of its kind to feature a ‘rollercoaster’ roofline inspired by the Santa Rosa Mountains – the City of Palm Desert will auction the midcentury property on 24 February at 2pm, during 2018 Modernism Week. There’ll be no minimum price or bid for Wave House, which is valued at around $340,000. To sweeten the deal, up to $50,000 will be granted by the City to help cover renovation costs.
2720 E Plaimor Avenue, Central Palm Springs
4 bedrooms; $960,000 via Paul Kaplan Group
The Sunmor Estate in central Palm Springs is among the first enclaves of affordable modernist houses built by George Alexander Construction Company in the late 1950s. This flat-roofed post-and-beam home has been recently updated and features an open-plan layout with timber ceilings and tiled floors. There’s a casita at the rear of the Palm Springs property, as well as a private salt water pool and terrace.
Honeymoon Hideaway, 1350 Ladera Circle
4 bedrooms; $5.9m via Marykay Nibley of Rodeo Realty
Elvis and Priscilla rented 1350 Ladera Circle, aka ‘the House of Tomorrow’ following their nuptials in Las Vegas in 1967. Designed by architect William Krisel in 1962 as four interlocking circles, their honeymoon pad is set over 5,000 sq ft with views of the San Jacinto Mountains and Coachella Valley. The centrepiece of the Palm Springs home – for sale via Rodeo Realty – is a vast open living room with floating circular fireplace, curved stone walls and huge glass windows.