Historic Articles

Pearl McCallum McManus – Desert Magazine (November 2012)

Although a century has passed since her father planted the first fruit trees at the foot of Mount San Jacinto, Pearl McCallum McManus’ influence in the Coachella Valley continues to enhance our quality of life today. Among the first to understand and imagine the possibilities of a gracious life in our desert setting, Pearl’s father was visionary. But he would not survive to see the valley’s transformation into the dreamy …

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Entertaining – Desert Magazine (October 2012)

Stepping out in a couture gown after a perfect evening of cocktails at your own fabulous home might seem impossible in a literal desert, but it is amazing how well it was done here back in the day. In fact, Elsa Maxwell would have been proud of Palm Springs. The most renowned party giver of the 1920s through 1940s, Maxwell was consulted by all in the highest social circles regardless …

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At Home – Desert Magazine (September 2012)

Early in the 20th century, important people visited the desert and then wanted to build their own piece of paradise. The resulting iconic residences represented the most desirable styles of the era. A respite at the Desert Inn was frequently the starting point. many who first enjoyed innkeeper Nellie Coffman’s hospitality thereafter built their own homes. The most significant guest was Thomas O’Donnell. In 1925, he would loan Coffman $350,000 …

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Summer Respites – Desert Magazine (Summer 2012)

Palm Springs was advertised in the first half of the 20th century as having the best winter weather in the continental United States. Not much mention was made of the summers. Die-hard desert rats endured the scorching temperatures of the Coachella Valley’s summers in the earliest years-pre-air conditioning. Those who stayed, managed by seeking precious shade and wrapping themselves in wet sheets out on enclosed sleeping porches at night. However, …

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Past Perfect – Desert Magazine (May 2012)

Beauty, fashion and health are long-established desert concerns, intimately entwined with the many reasons to visit or live here. Not surprisingly, the desert has set styles and established beauty-enhancing and health-giving practices from its earliest days, all contributing to its reputation as “America’s foremost desert resort.” One local trend that swept the nation was the invention of culottes, or shorts, for women. Wanting to show off the exceptionally beautiful young …

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Frank Sinatra's Twin Palms – Desert Magazine (February 2012)

In the summer of 1947, Frank Sinatra became enamored of the desert and strolled into the office of local architect E. Stewart Willams wearing a white sailor suit and enjoying an ice cream cone. He told the architect that he wanted to commission a house to be designed and built in time for Christmas. The singer had in mind a Georgian-style manse with a brick facade and columns. It was …

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The Racquet Club – Desert Magazine (January 2012)

Although they’re worshipped these days like deities, in the 1920s and ’30s “show people” weren’t welcomed lavishly at the established hotels in Palm Springs. But then, the world was indeed a different place. The Desert Inn was ambivalent, to put it kindly, about people in the movie business, although they made a major exception for child star Shirley Temple, who was the world’s No. 1 box-office attraction in the mid-1930s. …

The Racquet Club – Desert Magazine (January 2012) Read More »

Sunny Days on the Salton Sea – Desert Magazine (December 2011)

Frightening potential environmental impacts and mind-numbing economic analyses dominate the conversation about the Salton Sea these days. But there was a time when the sea’s great gift as a vast recreational resource for the valley was much easier to fathom-before the drastic reduction in water volume and quality dimmed its allure. Picture it: According to a Time Magazine article, the sea’s North Shore Yacht Club once boasted the largest marina …

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"Golden Days of Desert Golf" – Desert Magazine (April 2012)

With some 120 private and public courses scattered from Palm Springs to Indio, calling our desert “the Golf Capital of the World” seems a natural. But as recently as 1950, there wasn’t a single 18-hole course here. The El Mirador purportedly had the first course, with the O’Donnell Golf Club being second. It’s now the oldest golf course in the Coachella Valley. Wealthy oilman Thomas O’Donnell was an avid golfer …

"Golden Days of Desert Golf" – Desert Magazine (April 2012) Read More »

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