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Welcome to Vista Las Palmas, the Mid-Century Palm Springs neighborhood where architecture and celebrity make history!

Vista Las Palmas In the late 1950's, tract housing had become a national phenomenon. In Palm Springs, tract housing was taken to a new level by the father-and-son team of George and Robert Alexander of the Alexander Construction Company. They built over 1200 homes in the architectural style now known as Southern California Modern. They commissioned talented modernist architects to create forward-looking homes that include soaring rooflines and elegant minimalist facades with lots of curb appeal. The interiors include post and beam

construction, walls of glass, and spacious floor plans that flow smoothly from inside to out. The homes fit perfectly in the natural desert landscape against backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains.

The Alexander Construction Company began building clean-lined modern vacation homes at the southeast end of Palm Springs. As their success grew so did their idea of what a house should be and how much it should cost. By the end of the 1950's, they were building the Vista Las Palmas area – nestled up against San Jacinto Mountains on the northwest side of town where the wealthy "Old Hollywood" crowd had built Spanish Revival houses in Las Palmas.

Vista Las Palmas In Vista Las Palms, the firm of Palmer and Krisel, as well as architect Charles Dubois, designed approximately 330 homes. William Krisel contributed his iconic “butterfly” roof houses, a folded plate roof design, and several others. Charles Dubois created the distinctive “Swiss Miss” A-frame, among others. The mix of designs creates one of the most varied, yet cohesive neighborhoods in Palm Springs, and it is always a stop on any architectural tour of the area.

Robert Alexander and his wife, Helene, moved from Los Angeles to Palm Springs in 1957, living in Vista Las Palmas. Their special custom home at 1350 Ladera is “The House of Tomorrow” which was featured in an eight-page spread in Look Magazine’s September 1962 issue. Designed by Palmer & Krisel, the home features a series of circular glass pavilions under a single, “batwing” roof. Electronic controls were installed to manipulate indoor climate, outside lights and automatic rain. Lava rock walls and Jetson’s-style furniture made it a fabulous showplace. The cost of the new home—said to be $300,000, set a new standard for luxurious living in Southern California. In 1968, the home was used as the secret getaway for Elvis and Priscilla Presley where they spent their honeymoon.

On Sunday, November 14, 1965, George & Robert Alexander and their wives were killed in an airplane crash when their Lear Jet en route to Burbank crashed into the Little Chocolate Mountains northwest of Indio. The Alexander legacy lives on today in the preserved Mid Century neighborhood of Vista Las Palmas.

In the 1950’s celebrities from Los Angeles used Vista Las Palmas as their desert retreat from busy work schedules. Celebrities who once lived and played in Vista Las Palmas include Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Colonel Tom Parker, Debbie Reynolds, Joan Collins, George Hamilton, Kirk Douglas, Dinah Shore, John Phillips of the Mama’s and Papa’s, and Trini Lopez (still a resident.)

 Vista Las Palmas Today, Vista Las Palmas has become a symbol of Mid-Century Modern design for the distinctive homeowner who wants the relaxed lifestyle of the desert. Owners include weekenders from nearby Los Angeles, part-time residents from a colder home base, to the full-time residents who desire year-round peaceful desert living. Residents share an interest in preserving the history and architecture that so perfectly complements the desert landscape.
 All photos by James Schnepf