Architecture Tours Palm Springs
Credit: Jake Holt Photography

Missing Modernism Week? Here Are 5 Iconic Homes in Palm Springs for a Unique Exterior Tour

These Architecture Tours Offer a Glimpse Into Palm Springs’ Funky Past

Consider yourself a fan of all things midcentury modern? With the clean lines, bold shapes and innovative designs of this iconic 1950s and ‘60s architectural style, who could resist? Lucky for you, Architecture Tours by Modernism Week is offering mid mod enthusiasts a glimpse into the past with world-class exterior home tours of some of the most architecturally significant residences in the Coachella Valley.

Palm Springs is a mecca for midcentury modern, and Modernism Week (an 11-day festival that takes place each February) is an epic ode to this unique style. Whether you missed out on this year’s festival or attended and simply can’t enough, these guided exterior tours provide an up-close and personal look at some of the region’s most stunning homes. Led by expert tour guide and owner and operator of PS Architecture Tours Trevor O’Donnell and a team of knowledgeable and friendly professionals, these small van exterior home tours are the perfect ways to experience the magic of midcentury design all season long.

Here are five homes you will see on the Architecture Tours by Modernism Week tour that offer an in-depth introduction to Palm Springs’ fascinating past and its rare concentration of amazing modernist homes and buildings.

 

1 | Edris House, 1954, by E. Stewart Williams

Credit: Jake Holt Photography

Nestled in the heart of Palm Springs, the Edris House by E. Stewart Williams is a prime example of architecture in harmony with its environment. Built in 1954, this residence exemplifies Williams’ belief that architecture should emerge from the earth, rather than just rest upon it. The use of knotless Douglas fir and local stone, along with the home’s integration into the indigenous landscape, showcases an organic design philosophy that respects and celebrates the natural world. The Edris House is a testament to Williams’ commitment to creating spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and deeply connected to their surroundings.

 

2 | Twin Palms – Frank Sinatra Estate, 1947, by E. Stewart Williams

Credit: Jake Holt Photography

The Twin Palms estate, also designed by E. Stewart Williams, marks a significant chapter in both architectural and Hollywood history. Originally envisioned as a Georgian-style home by Frank Sinatra, Williams managed to persuade the iconic singer to embrace a modernist approach. The result is a groundbreaking residence characterized by its low-slung, glass-walled design that is in harmony with the desert landscape. Beyond its architectural significance, Twin Palms holds a special place in Hollywood lore and was rightfully listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, celebrating its cultural and architectural impact.

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3 | Kaufmann Desert House, 1946, by Richard Neutra

Architecture Tours Palm Springs
Credit: Jake Holt Photography

Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann Desert House is a masterpiece of international style architecture, designed for department store magnate Edgar Kaufmann in 1946. Known as one of Neutra’s most architecturally significant projects, the house was designed to foster a deep connection with the desert environment while providing shelter from its extreme conditions. Its significance in American architecture cannot be overstated, representing a pivotal moment in the evolution of modern residential design and its ability to integrate with and enhance its natural surroundings.

 

4 | Frey House II, 1963, by Albert Frey

Architecture Tours Palm Springs
Credit: Jake Holt Photography

Albert Frey’s second personal home in Palm Springs, Frey House II is a marvel of environmental sensitivity and architectural ingenuity. Despite its compact footprint of only 800 square feet, the residence is a fully functional living space that minimizes its impact on the natural environment. One of the home’s most distinctive features is a large boulder that not only is built into the structure but also divides the living and sleeping areas, further showcasing Frey’s philosophy of blending architecture with nature.

Azure Palm Hot Springs

 

5 | Dinah Shore House, 1963, by Donald Wexler

Architecture Tours Palm Springs
Credit: David A. Lee

The Dinah Shore House, designed by Donald Wexler in 1963 for the renowned actress and singer, stands as a shining example of midcentury modern design. Featuring a dramatic steel-beamed walkway, light-filled interiors and expansive rooms ideal for entertaining, the residence perfectly portrays the era’s architectural principles. Set on 1.3 lush acres, the home offers multiple terraces for dining and relaxation, which are all accessible from the main living areas to make for the perfect blend of indoor and outdoor living.

These five homes, each with their unique history and architectural features, offer a glimpse into the innovative spirit of their designers and the timeless appeal of midcentury modern architecture. Modernism Week invites visitors to explore these iconic homes through these seasonal tours to continue to celebrate and preserve the rich architectural heritage of the Palm Springs we all know and love.

To book a tour, click here!

 

Modernism Week
@modernism_week

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This article is brought to you by one of the many talented writers associated with Locale Magazine! We are a group of locals (whether born and raised or transplanted) who love this county we now call home!

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