Palm Springs Modernism Week Fall Preview 2019

Recently, tickets went on sale for Palm Springs Modernism Week 2020 and it’s going to be hard for me to choose which events to attend. Especially since I’m still feeling the rush of Modernism Week Fall Preview 2019 which I just attended. Every fall I look forward to this event and, once again, it did not disappoint and I had a fun filled day in the mid-century oasis that is Palm Springs.

guthrie house

Bright and early I made it to my first stop Albert Frey’s 1935 Guthrie House. Built by the famed architect shortly after his move to Palm Springs it had been extensively remodeled over the years and was almost unrecognizable. Thanks to the Avi Ross group it has been extensively restored bringing it as close to its original style as possible while including modern upgrades.

guthrie house

The result is a stark, modernist desert oasis that is faithful to the principles of Frey’s design and I’m overjoyed that it was restored.

In Palm Springs even the fire stations are designed by modernist masters. In 1971 Fire Station #4 was designed by Hugh Kaptur and perfectly complements it’s mid-century neighborhood. But after nearly 50 years of use it was simply too small for the firefighting team that used it and needed an upgrade. Luckily, Hugh Kaptur is still around so he was able to assist in the design of its new wing.

If I hadn’t mention this was a new addition would you have even guessed it? It’s so seamless! I was thoroughly impressed.

modernism week fall preview featured house

One of the highlights of Modernism Week is the Featured Home and this year’s did not disappoint. The Axiom Desert House is a modern home that borrows heavily from mid-century design and fits seamlessly (there’s that word again!) into the surrounding neighborhood.

At over 2,100 square feet it’s a desert oasis that epitomizes indoor/outdoor living.

It’s a true stunner that shows that modern desert architecture can be celebrated as much as it’s mid-century counterpart.

During Modernism Week Fall Preview I’m usually headed to the Palm Springs Art Museum for a lecture and I completely bypass the exhibition space. This year I decided to switch things up and skip the lecture for a look around the collection.

Currently on display is Contrasts: Promised Gifts from the Kaplan-Ostergaard Glass Collection which highlights an astounding collection of art glass. I absolutely love art glass and felt like this exhibition was tailor made for me.

Since I took one glass blowing class I now consider myself an expert (wink wink) and know just how difficult these pieces were to make. The artistry on display just blew me away and I left with an even larger appreciation of glasswork than I had before.

My final stop was a location that I had long been wanting to visit – American Legion Post 519 designed by Albert Frey and John Porter Clark.

Although designed by one of my favorite architects its architectural pedigree was not the reason I had been wanting to visit. Instead, it was so I could see a tiny room inside.

The broadcast booth. It’s no secret I’m a fan of classic Hollywood but you may not know that one of my very favorite performers was Jack Benny. A true comedic genius I love his films, his television show and, most of all, his radio show. I listen to it weekly (still possible thanks to podcasts) and have heard many episodes broadcast from this very spot, American Legion Post 519 .

Ordinarily, The Jack Benny Show broadcast from Hollywood but on occasion it would head to Palm Springs for a series of episodes and the American Legion Hall was its desert home. In fact, it was the desert home of several famous shows and you could hear Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Doris Day, Judy Garland and a whole host of others perform from the hall.

Once the era of radio ended the broadcast booth was turned into a storage area and its storied past was long forgotten. That is until member Tom McLean went snooping. As he cleared the storage area he uncovered mementos of the room’s famed past including all the cables that would send the broadcast to LA which then would send it all over the country! Not wanting the post’s Hollywood legacy to be erased he restored the room to its original purpose as a recording booth.

Inside, he’s assembled an exhibit of artifacts of its historic past and uses it as home base for his HAM radio operations. I love that after all these years the broadcast booth is once again used for its original purpose.

Once again, Palm Springs Modernism Week Fall Preview proved to be a memorable event. I toured beautiful homes, marveled at incredible artwork and visited a part of Hollywood history. What more could I ask for? It’ll be hard to top but I can’t wait to see what Modernism Week 2020 brings. I’m sure I’ll be blown away all over again.

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