Palm Springs Modernist Paradise, $2MAuthor:Philip Ferrato
Where: 423 West Merito Place, Old Las Palmas/Palm Springs
Current Status: In Escrow
What: Proving once again that there’s a market for superb examples for Desert Modernism, this wonderfully preserved and updated 1957 home by Richard Harrison of Wexler/Harrison went “pending” after only six days on the market and is now about to close escrow– and there’s a story behind it, as well.
Harrison was the quiet business partner of the better-known architect Donald Wexler in Wexler/Harrison; they worked together on numerous desert landmarks but often took projects that were their own. The original owners were a prosperous couple from Buffalo, New York, Emil and Ruth Lauffer, and although little is known about them personally, they kept immaculately detailed diaries which later became the source materials for information about the house. The Laufers bequeathed their desert retreat and its entire contents (including closets full of clothes) to their local Palm Springs synagogue, which promptly sold the house and everything in it to the late Canadian architect Jim Reid.
A good friend of Reid’s, Palm Springs realtor and Desert Modernism scholar Chris Menrad, told us that from diaries he discovered in the house that the Laufers had interviewed a number of desert area architects, including Richard Neutra, before hiring Harrison. And that they had hired a very young Arthur Elrod to specify furnishings– including a pair of Paul McCobb X-Stools, a Bertoia Womb chair in pale pink, and a Sarinnen dining table and tulip chairs. The draperies are original.
In addition to restoring the fiberglass screens in the front, Reid removed a fountain in the atrium, installing a tall palm in its place– presumably by crane. The kitchen is almost entirely original.
Menrad also related how Reid completely changed the original desert landscaping over his seventeen years of ownership, framing the vistas with palms, as well adding the period-sympathetic casita. A long wall with a water feature bisects the property diagonally, both shielding, and then revealing the casita.
Reid also created two outdoor rooms– a long pergola/pavilion structure on one side of the property leading to an outdoor kitchen, dining and seating areas.
More: Go to the listing for additional details and images at TTKRepresents.com, Chris Menrad’s real estate firm. And many thanks to Chris– who is also the long-time president of Palm Springs Modernism Week– for so generously sharing his knowledge and passion for Desert Modernism.