Old Las Palmas holds its own as the center of the universe for those seeking a prestigious address in Palm Springs. El Mirador Hotel developer P.T. Stevens, with contractor Alvah Hicks and his son Harold, subdivided this former citrus grove during the mid-1920s. Nellie Coffman’s Desert Inn became the main attraction. The Tennis Club spread out on the south side of the wildly popular sanitorium turned resort, while Old Las Palmas grew up around it on the north. This famous, early California mission-style hotel was the epicenter of town for decades.
In large part thanks to Coffman, the majority of Old Las Palmas homes were built in the 1920s through the 1940s. Along curvilinear streets inspired by the work of Frederick Law Olmsted sit a substantial collection of historic early California and Spanish revival homes, their red tile roofs peaking above the walled front gates. Luxurious, estate-worthy lots sized at a half or full acre, or even larger, present mature landscape. Privacy walls in assorted styles lend a subtle grandeur and mystique. Adding to its desirability, Old Las Palmas is walking distance to the full downtown experience. For those who are counting, the neighborhood organization cites the largest number of celebrity homes in Palm Springs. Among them: the Dinah Shore Estate (Donald Wexler, 1964), a Mediterranean estate owned by Harry Winston and rented by Elizabeth Taylor, and houses purchased by Donna Reed, Liberace, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Sidney Sheldon, Kirk Douglas, Kitty Carlisle, Jack Warner, Lily Tomlin, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, and others. In the spectrum of exceptional architecture, the Buff and Hensman home built in 1969 for Laurence Harvey received a brilliant modern update by Marmol Radziner. Two homes by architect Cliff May live in Old Las Palmas, as does the private Spanish estate of renowned interior designer Steve Chase.
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