In his Creators Syndicate website article, freelance writer Steve Bergsman writes about taking the “Palm Springs Modern Tour” with Robert Imber. Steve calls Robert Imber a juggernaut of a tour guide, a self-taught historian and firm believer in the concept of modernism, the architectural movement that dominated wealthy, residential Palm Springs in the 30-year period from 1940 through 1970. 

From the celebrities’ homes he sees, Steve says you’d think he was in Beverly Hills (maybe old Beverly Hills). On the tour, Steve mentions seeing Ronald Reagan's house, the home where Elizabeth Taylor once lived, the residence where Kirk Douglas lived for more than 40 years Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s “honeymoon hideaway” and the low-slung white vision of modernism once owned by Rat Pack member, Peter Lawford, where at least according to a bronze plaque outside the home, President Kennedy secretly met Marilyn Monroe. Steve writes that it’s the celebrity names that attract us: so mentions also seeing the homes of Bette Davis, Kim Novak, movie mogul Jack Warner, Claudette Colbert and singer Dinah Shore (now owned by Leonardo DiCaprio). 

Steve notes that the most famous residence in these Palm Springs neighborhoods has nothing to do with celebrities in the arts. It's called the Kaufman Desert House because the owners, the Kaufman family, who made their fortune building and managing department stores, also had another famous house constructed in Pennsylvania, a Frank Lloyd Wright structure called Falling Waters. The Kaufmans' Palm Springs home was built in 1947 and designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra. For many years this home was owned by singer Barry Manilow, and after he departed the house went into serious decline. Since that time the home has been fully renovated and is now considered the jewel in the crown of mid-century modern architecture. 

Steve thinks that the "Old Hollywood label" for Palm Springs is not wrong. The heyday of Palm Springs, both from a notoriety and architectural standpoint, was the 1930s through 1970. After the recession years of the 1970s and into the 1980s, the monied crowd that still came to the desert migrated down the road to Rancho Mirage and, indeed, Palm Springs lost its "coolness" credentials. Then starting in the 1990s, preservationists looked around at the beautiful and unique architectural gems that were built during the mid-20th century and said this was all worth saving. The monied crowd came back and started buying and rehabilitating these classic homes. The way Steve sees it, modernism helped save Palm Springs, which is about as cool (ambience not temperature) a place to visit as it had been during the time Frank Sinatra lived there with his Rat Pack pals, guys like Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. 

To read Steve Bergsman’s original article, courtesy of the Creators Syndicate website, please visit: