Gracious estate-sized lots with old-growth landscape. Towering ficus for privacy. Meandering streets that weave past gated enclaves. You’ve arrived in the Movie Colony, with all its sense of arrival. Across from Old Las Palmas and set against downtown’s east side, this neighborhood welcomed larger-than-life entertainment moguls — with all of their antics and friends. When the old El Mirador Hotel opened with one of biggest pools in the country on New Year’s Eve 1928, Hollywood had found their playground. (Designed by Los Angeles architects Walker & Eisen, it is now Desert Regional Medical Center.) High society clamored to party there, then built impressive compounds nearby. Several small hotels still operate here, including Colony Palms (built in 1936 and recently renovated by Los Angeles-based designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard) and Movie Colony Hotel (Albert Frey, 1935). Though often unseen from the streets, houses display a range of the desert’s finest architectural styles, from 1930s Spanish to modern and everything in between. Cary Grant owned an Andalusian-style farmhouse (John Byers, 1930) from 1954 to 1972, which has midcentury additions by Wallace Neff. William Cody designed the pavilion-style Abernathy estate in 1962. Both are Class 1 historic sites. Dinah Shore, Jack Benny, Marilyn Monroe, and Al Jolson all had homes here. Golden Age producer and screenwriter Darryl Zanuck’s 1935 estate summed up the Movie Colony good life with a pool, tennis, croquet, chauffer’s quarters, and a casino in the pool house. Oversize lots tucked behind manicured landscape bring a tremendous sense of privacy to owners and their guests.
From the vast outdoor spaces, residents linger in the afternoon sun a little longer than in neighborhoods to the west and can stroll to Ruth Hardy Park. Perspective of the mountains from this vantage point inspire full appreciation for their texture, changing colors, and looming majesty. Its walking-distance proximity to downtown restaurants and shopping and a stunning catalog of homes in various architectural styles makes the Movie Colony an A-lister with timeless appeal.
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