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by Paul Kaplan
on Friday, May 5th, 2017 at 1:20pm.
616 N High Road, Palm Springs, currently listed by The Paul Kaplan Group
The Paul Kaplan Group is grateful for the architects and developers who contributed to the "Desert Modernism" movement in Palm Springs. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Alexander Construction Company built over 2,000 homes in the Palm Springs area, greatly increasing the size of the Palm Springs and bringing modernist design to homebuyers at an affordable price.
The Ocotillo Lodge pool
George Alexander and his son Robert ("Bob") founded the company, which was relocated from Los Angeles to Palm Springs during the 1950s, with their first big project along with business partner Joe Dunas being the construction of the Ocotillo Lodge in 1956, with architects Dan Palmer and William Krisel creating the design. Octotillo Lodge combined short and long-term residential living with the conveniences of resort-style amenities, with over 100 apartment-style units featuring private patios. Octotillo Lodge was a favorite spot for many celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor, Betty Grable, Errol Flynn and Rock Hudson.
The Alexander Construction Co. continued to collaborate with Palmer and Krisel, deciding to build modern tract homes in Palm Springs with clean lines, efficient production and reasonable prices. They began with the Twin Palms Estates neighborhood of south Palm Springs, building 1,200 square foot homes with in-ground swimming pools and two palm trees in the yard (the origin of the Twin Palms name), priced at $30,000 and under.
2590 N Starr Road, Palm Springs, currently listed by The Paul Kaplan Group
The development was well-received and successful, leading to the creation of additional tracts of homes throughout Palm Springs, including large numbers in Racquet Club Estates and Sunmor Estates, and other smaller pockets of Alexander homes. Common features included clerestory windows and abundant walls of glass; post-and-beam ceilings, interesting rooflines, including the now-iconic butterfly roof; exterior details like concrete blocks, stone and wood panels; breezeways; carports and almost always an in-ground pool to take advantage of the desert weather.
1150 E Adobe Way, Palm Springs, currently listed by The Paul Kaplan Group
In the late 1950s, the Alexanders began building homes in the Las Palmas neighborhood, which was the area of choice for many Hollywood stars. Many of these homes were larger (at least 2,000 square feet), and the majority were designed by Krisel, with the exception of the A-frames known as “Swiss Miss” homes, which were designed by Charles DuBois. Peter Lawford, a member of the Rat Pack, had an Alexander house in Las Palmas, which purportedly lodged President Kennedy and facilitated a rendezvous with Marilyn Monroe, who stayed in a home nearby.
Wexler Steel House
In 1961, the Alexander Construction Co. began building the steel development houses designed by Donald Wexler, which were primarily made of steel and glass and used a combination of off-site prefab and on-site assembly. Originally intended as a larger development of steel homes in north Palm Springs, ultimately only seven homes were built due to the rising cost of steel.
The House of Tomorrow / Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
The “Honeymoon Hideaway” house where Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned in 1967 was originally built by Bob Alexander for his own family in the early 1960s. The home, located in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs and dubbed "the House of Tomorrow" at the time for its futuristic shape, was featured in Look magazine in September 1962 along with a piece on the Alexanders, garnering the family a bit of celebrity status. Tragically, George Alexander and his wife Mildred and their son Bob and his wife Helene were all killed on November 15, 1965, when their chartered plane flying them from Palm Springs to Burbank crashed into the Little Chocolate Mountains near Indio, California. The operations of the Alexander Construction Co. ceased upon their deaths, but the lasting legacy of the Alexanders remains, with their homes continuing to this day to be some of the most popular and revered architectural properties in Palm Springs.
The Paul Kaplan Group is proud to represent many Alexander-built homes in Palm Springs. Please contact us at 760-459-1396 for more information about these and other great architectural homes in the Palm Springs area.