Historic Articles

Gladding, McBean Fountain at The Bishop House

A small advertisement  for luxurious art tile appeared in the August 1926 issue of Pacific Coast Monthly.  It featured a lavishly decorated tile fountain adorning an outside patio in Palm Springs, California.  The Gladding, McBean tile company was well-established by the time of the ad.  It had been in business for more than half a century and was known throughout the Southwest. In the 1920s, architectural terra cotta was all …

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Desert Circus – Desert Magazine (November 2014)

“Crime does not pay-but you will!” admonished the Kangaroo Court citation issued by deputized teenage girls who were instructed by Sheriff Two-Gun Thompson to arrest anyone who wasn’t properly attired in western wear. Desert Circus Week For one full week each spring, the whole town would be subject to the Kangaroo Court. Judge Leo Fields presided over the court, usual held on the grounds of the Desert Inn, where all …

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Harry Oliver – Desert Magazine (October 2014)

“I never did learn how to spell-but I did learn the typesetter’s rule ‘Set up the type as long as you can hold your breath without turning blue in the face, then put a comma. When you gape (sic), put in a semicolon and when you want to sneeze, that’s the time to make a paragraph.’” And with a firm understanding of such, Harry Oliver set out to make the …

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Water in the Desert – Desert Magazine (Summer 2013)

Despite its designation as a desert, the Coachella Valley is blessed with water. The very names associated with the places in the desert, such as The Oasis Hotel, Deep Well, Indian Wells, Palm Springs, Snow Creek and River Estates all conjure up pretty images of water but the early story of desert water is more utilitarian than picturesque; it literally can be seen as a history of ditches. More than …

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Gardening in the Desert – Desert Magazine (May 2013)

“I’m an enemy of the average” stated world-famous Polish opera singer, socialite and six-time-married Madame Ganna Walska, who certainly wasn’t average. In 1941 at the age of 58, she purchased a sprawling Montecito estate and spend the remainder of her long life cultivating the 37-acre property named Lotusland. Fascinated with desert plants, Walska created a stunningly beautiful garden at her Santa Barbara home, one that rivaled other spectacular landscapes seen …

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The Painted Desert – Desert Magazine (April 2013)

All of the big names were here. These artists, whose paintings now garner unimaginable sums at auction, worked “en plein air,” away from their studios, capturing the changing colors in the great outdoors. It was a time of innocence and exploration in California’s desert wilds. Some painters were driven to escape the ravages of tuberculosis, and others, like Lockwood de Forest, who made 10 documented visits in the very beginning …

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Pools in Paradise – Desert Magazine (March 2013)

While public baths have figured prominently since ancient times in civilization-providing both cleanliness and socializing-the widespread presence of private swimming pools for leisure and entertainment in one’s own backyard is truly a 20th century phenomenon. And nowhere is it more evident than here in the desert where the swimming pool is the very definition of leisurely resort living. One of the first in-ground, concrete pools in the United States was …

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Dates in History – Desert Magazine (February 2013)

“It’s a date!” the title of the thin tome proclaims with a cheeky wink. Chronicling the Coachella Valley date industry from a 1930s perspective, this book, written by Wayland Dunham, takes an amused view of this agricultural wonder. The publication recounts the fact in great detail, in a “simple yarn, told in lighthearted, non-technical terms, of the history, romance, propagation, and usage of the fruit of the Date Palm…” EARLY …

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Nightclubbing – Desert Magazine (January 2013)

When the sun goes down in the desert, the cool night sky sparkles with stars. But back in the day, earthbound movie stars spotted locally-just a two-hour drive from Hollywood-seemed to outnumber those in the sky. To go stargazing then, you only had to go nightclubbing. For a few decades in the middle of the last century, the intimate hot spots of the desert were nearly unequalled anywhere in the …

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"Santa Baby" – Desert Magazine (December 2012)

Sand dunes and 80-degree December temperatures might seem like the last conditions on earth to inspire the creation of timeless holiday songs, but, in fact, the Coachella Valley figures prominently in the writing and recording of a few that we hold most dear. “WHITE CHRISTMAS” There are several stories about the genesis of “White Christmas,” surely the most famous tune of all, but one tells of Irving Berlin writing it …

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