Dreams never die in The Mesa, as evidenced by the rustic “gatehouse” near the corner of El Portal and South Palm Canyon Drive. Those unfamiliar with its story might deem it odd and out of place; residents are fondly attached. The structure represents the dream of Los Angeles businessman Edmond Fulford. He planned to establish an exclusive hillside community with a gated entrance. After subdividing parcels of great natural beauty across the low, rolling hills of the San Jacinto Mountains, he passed away suddenly in 1936. Fulford’s mighty gatehouse has become a symbol for this sentimental neighborhood that evolved under other developers.
The Mesa and its undulating elevation offer the closest thing to a Laurel Canyon/Hollywood Hills experience in Palm Springs. Lush, sometimes beautifully overgrown, old-growth landscape, canyons between houses, and a rougher topography are hallmarks. Early homes born in the 1920s all the way to newer custom homes dot winding streets that offer a sense of exploration and discovery. Adobe, Spanish colonial, 1950s ranch, midcentury modern, and ’80s contemporary are all represented. Diverse but bonded residents have a reputation for friendliness in spite of their homes’ secluded nature. Notable residents have included Zane Grey, Johnny Mercer, Sonny Bono, Natalie Wood, and Suzanne Somers. King Gillette, who invented a best-selling safety razor, owned a 1923 Spanish estate that has Class 1 historic status. Barry Manilow makes his nest atop the hill. Trina Turk owns the “Ship of the Desert” at the bottom, rebuilt from original plans as an example of 1930s Streamline Moderne style.
Tucked into the mountainside where Palm Canyon Drive curves eastward, The Mesa offers hillside home opportunities, an eclectic collection of architecture, and storybook landscape in a distinguished piece of old Palm Springs.
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