Tours - Modernism Week


Modernism Week

Get ready to celebrate the appreciation of midcentury architecture and design in Palm Springs. 

Modernism Week fosters contemporary thinking in these fields, by encouraging education, preservation and sustainable modern living as represented in our city.

Modernism Week  
February 13-23, 2020

The Palm Springs Historical Society is proud to partner and offer the following special Modernism tours. Go to to get tickets for these tours that go on sale November 1, 2019 at 12 noon PST. 

Tour 1

Heart of the City - Women Built this Town

Walk through the heart of downtown in a new light as you learn about the forward thinking women who built this town and the midcentury architects whose Modernist vision launched this alluring oasis.
(120 minutes)

Discover how a tiny agricultural settlement became a world-renowned getaway. See historic buildings from our past meld with the emerging future.

Visit the two oldest structures in Palm Springs, the McCallum Adobe (1884) and the Cornelia White House (1893). Stroll through La Plaza, (1936) the first multi-use shopping center in the nation, then view the most recent upscale development – now the pulse of the city. See the Oasis Hotel tower designed in 1924 by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, the precursor to the midcentury movement to follow.

Tour 2

Golden Era - Hollywood Homes

In old Las Palmas, Spanish Colonial architecture abounds alongside classic examples of dramatic midcentury architecture. Docents share tales of the stars who lived and martini-ed here.
(150 minutes)

This neighborhood began its development in the late 1920s and has one of the highest concentrations of celebrity homes anywhere. Throughout the decades stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Cary Grant, Judy Garland, and Leonardo DiCaprio, plus many others have made their homes here.


Tour 3

Inns, Architecture and Glamour - An Exclusive VIP Tour

See the vintage hotels that still provide the “Rich and Famous” with seclusion and relaxation. Stroll among these charming and beautiful boutique inns as you hear fascinating tales.
(150 minutes)

Learn why generations have continually flocked to this desert eden. Follow in the footsteps of the stars who partied and vacationed here - from legendary Joan Crawford and Clark Gable to today’s Miley Cyrus and Queen Latifah.

Along the way, see the oldest building in Palm Springs and a variety of architectural styles as you learn our unique history.

Tour 4

Celebrity Haven - Unique Boutique Resorts

See close-up the inns and resorts that were, and remain today, havens for the stars. Many were designed and built after WWII when America’s appetite for Modern design was the rage.
(150 minutes)

It was the “The Atomic Age” and Palm Springs captured the futuristic mood like no other place on earth. Nestled in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains is this famed Palms Springs Tennis Club Neighborhood.

This area has an eclectic mix of boutique hotels and private sanctuaries that became hideaways for the stars like Errol Flynn, Lucille Ball, Doris Day and Gloria Swanson. Today Hollywood hipsters like Robert Downey Jr. and Reese Witherspoon enjoy these unique resorts.

Tour 5

Rat Pack Playground - Modernist Homes

Discover the trendy midcentury neighborhood Vista Las Palmas, once nicknamed the “Beverly Hills of Palm Springs” and view the homes now called “Alexanders” developed by George and Robert Alexander.(120 minutes)

Celebrities like Debbie Reynolds, Elvis Presley, Kim Novak, Dean Martin and the Rat Packers lived and frolicked here in the 50s and 60s.

Experience the architectural genius of Palmer and Krisel in a collection of stunning homes that were mass-produced but appear to be custom designed. See the Kaufmann house, designed by Richard Neutra, a true masterpiece of midcentury Modern architecture.

Tour 6

Midcentury Showcase - Shangri-La of the Stars

Stroll through this pristine midcentury neighborhood with its collection of elegant Modernist homes, designed by the desert’s most revered architects.
(150 minutes)

Architects E. Stewart Williams, Donald Wexler, and Hugh Kaptur shine here. Some of Hollywood’s biggest names lived in these well-manicured properties boasting some of the most attractive desert landscaping in Palm Springs. Loretta Young, William Holden, Carmen Miranda, Jerry Lewis and Liberace are just a few of the stars that called Deepwell home.

Tour 7

Frank Sinatra’s Neighborhood - The Movie Colony

This tour affords a visual feast blending classic Spanish Colonial Revival with the sleek midcentury Modern designs by the renowned E. Stewart Williams, Donald Wexler and William Cody.
(150 minutes)

The Movie Colony neighborhood began in the 1930s with the beautiful El Mirador Hotel as its centerpiece. After WWII Frank Sinatra made it “his” neighborhood when his home, known as “Twin Palms,” became party central. Neighbors Jack Benny, Tony Curtis, Cary Grant and many other starsenjoyed this charming and prestigious area.

Tour 8

Hidden Paradise - Show Biz Legends Hideaway

The Mesa is a beautiful secluded neighborhood with a fascinating assortment of eclectic architecture. It boasts one of Palm Springs’ most stunning architectural anomalies, the Santorini House. 
(150 minutes)

Ranging from Romantic Spanish Colonial Revival to dramatic Contemporary Modern, these hillside hideaways were home to Hollywood’s elite. Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, Sonny and Cher, and music legend Johnny Mercer just to name a few, lived in the protective shadow of the San Jacinto mountains. Today Barry Manilow and Suzanne Somers enjoy this slice of paradise.

Tour 9

Uptown Design District - Three Eras of Revival

Follow the footsteps of desert dreamers from 1925 to the present era. This design district is one of the most historic and colorful in the city.(150 minutes)

Explore the diverse architecture from California Mission to midcentury Modern as seen in homes, boutiques, businesses, galleries, and churches. Discover the earliest resort inns that to this day reflect the relaxing and glamorous atmosphere Palm Springs is known for around the world.

Tour 10

Modernist Treasures - Lush Living on the Links

On ancestral land of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is an attractive collection of luxurious Modernist residences with impressive landscapes lining the historic Indian Canyons Golf Resort.
(150 minutes)

With spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the lush fairways, these homes feature a treasure trove of concrete screen block patterns and a profusion of fascinating desert plants.

This first 18-hole golf course in Palm Springs was a magnet for TV legends. Walt Disney, Chuck “Rifleman” Connors, and David “Fugitive” Janssen were some of the stars who lived and played here.

Tour 11

Marvels of Modernism Masters - Visionary Architects Shine

See how desert Modern design was applied to commercial buildings in the heart of the fashion and finance district in Palm Springs.
(120 minutes)

Get to know the movers and shakers who shaped the city’s growth and development during the economic boom of the midcentury.

Learn how visionary local architects E. Stewart Williams, Larry Lapham, and Donald Wexler as well as large nationally recognized architectural firms Victor Gruen & Associates and Pereira & Luckman were able to incorporate the Modern International Movement adapting their structures to the often-harsh desert climate while embracing the incredible views of the surrounding mountains.




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