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
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,
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
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
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.