Modernism Week Fall Preview in Palm Springs, California (October 17 – 20, 2019)

Many people are familiar with the Modernism Week events here in February, but may not know about October Preview show which is a wonderful mini-version – and also is less crowded!  If you are a fan of mid-century modern architecture, you do not want to miss the Fall Preview Week.  

The mission of Modernism Week is “to celebrate and foster appreciation of mid-century architecture and design, as well as contemporary thinking in these fields, by encouraging education, preservation and sustainable modern living as represented in the greater Palm Springs area.”  With over 50 events happening over three days as part of the Fall Modernism preview (and gorgeous weather in Palm Springs – yes, our temperatures are still in the 80’s!) you don’t want to miss it.

Gary and I have attended the Fall Preview in the past and wanted to share with you a sampling of a few of the tours.   The following text descriptions are from the Modernism Week website and links are provided where you can buy tickets and find out about other events as well.

Double Decker Bus Tour  ($95)

red and yellow double decker bus with mountains and palm trees in the background

Modernism Tour Double Decker Bus (photo credit: Modernism Week website)

Modernism Week’s signature tour! The Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour provides guests with a 2.5 hour overview of significant civic and commercial buildings, as well as residential properties located within notable Palm Springs neighborhoods, including the mid-century “leisure lifestyle” communities in South Palm Springs. Lead by knowledgeable guides, this open-air experience offers unique, exterior perspectives of Desert Spanish and Mid-century Modern architecture, two predominant styles found in Palm Springs. From the oldest existing structure in Palm Springs, the McCallum Adobe, and the expansive grounds of the exclusive Villa Paradiso Estate, to Albert Frey’s 800 square foot “Frey House II” perched on the mountainside, passengers will gain a better understanding of the historical richness and architectural diversity found in this desert oasis.  (The tours led by Charles Phoenix tend to sell out first, but all of the tour guides are excellent.)

Vintage Car Show ($15)

vintage cars in gray, red and green parked in the field with green grass and palm trees

Vintage Car Show (photo credit: Modernism Week Website)

Casual Concours XI is the eleventh annual gathering of significant post-war automobiles, with over 100 museum-quality cars on display. The finest mid-century car show in the Coachella Valley, Casual Concours reflects the unique collector car culture of Palm Springs, with dominant displays of rarely seen luxury cars of the 1950s–80s and a focus on styling, color, luxury features, historical significance and showroom condition—in other words, midcentury glamour! This year, our featured Marques are Thunderbird and Avanti.  Many of the finest vintage cars in Southern California can be found in Palm Springs, and on display at this show. If you’re a fan of gasoline & glamour, mid-century design, and push-button culture, this is the event for you! 

Cul-de-Sac Experience ($75)

Yellow vintage car with a woman in a long pink dress parked in a driveway with mountains and palm trees

Cul-de-Sac Experience (Photo credit: Jev Pic and Modernism Week website)

This is the event everyone is talking about, The Cul-de-Sac Experience—and this year’s theme is Cul-de-Sac A-Go-Go! From the moment you enter this secluded circle in the iconic Canyon View Estates, you’re transported back to 1966, with intact William Krisel-designed homes on tour, a curated collection of classic vehicles in the carports and driveways, and go-go platforms for our very own Cul-de-Sac Dancers to shake things up. Period music, high fashion models, and some special surprises make this an event you won’t forget! New this year is a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the pool and garden areas, sensitively redesigned with drought-tolerant desert landscaping.

Sunnylands ($65)

swimming pool on a large green lawn with pink house in the background

Sunnylands Estate and grounds. (Photo credit: Modernism Week website)

In groups of seven, visitors on the Historic House Tour are taken on electric shuttles from Sunnylands Center & Gardens to the former winter home of Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg.  A midcentury masterpiece with Mayan influences, the 25,000-square-foot residence was completed in 1966.  Famed architect A. Quincy Jones designed the home, which interior designers William Haines and Ted Graber decorated in the Hollywood Regency style.  Guides on the 90-minute tour also inform guests about the rare paintings, sculptures and other works of art on display in the home, as well as the world-famous 20th-century entertainers and politicians who visited the estate.  

Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palm Estate Tours ($45)

one story tan brick house with 2 palm trees behind the house

Frank Sinatra’s Movie Colony Home (Photo credit: Modernism Week website)

Always one of the most popular events of Modernism Week’s Fall Preview, join the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation for a tour of Frank Sinatra’s storied “Twin Palms” estate, designed by modernist architect E. Stewart Williams in 1947. With the help of PSPF, the home was designated a Class 1 Historic Site by the city of Palm Springs in March 2011 and has been described as “great mid-century design combined with Hollywood lore.” The Sinatra house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. This is a self-guided tour, however, PSPF board members will be available to answer questions and tour goers will receive an informational handout.

Frey House II Tours ($65)

one story house with pool and large glass windows. rocks in front of the house and mountains behind the house

Frey House II (Photo credit: Modernism Week website)

Hosted by the Palm Springs Art Museum, these 40 minute docent led tours are a rare opportunity to see the residence of modernist architect, Albert Frey. A limited number will enjoy this unique experience and gain insight into this modern master’s architectural sensibility.

Lost, Saved and Endangered.  Modernist Architecture in Palm Springs (FREE!)

Man wearing a tan suit and a tan hat. crowd sitting behind him

Talk by Gary Johns (Photo credit: Modernism Week Website)

Join us for Palm Springs Preservation Foundation board member Gary Johns’ popular slide lecture, Lost, Saved & Endangered: Modernist Architecture in Palm Springs.  This entertaining and informative lecture is a Modernism Week favorite and is replete with amusing anecdotes and rarely seen vintage photos. This season we’re happy to present this free lecture at a new venue: Palm Springs Cultural Center. 

Come stay with us!

To complete your whole mid-century modern experience, come and stay here with us at The Monkey Tree Hotel – designed in 1960.  Breakfast, parking, wifi, use of our Scandinavian spa is all included in your rate.  No resort fees!  Book here

black vintage car in front of a white and stone building with palm trees in the background

Entry to The Monkey Tree Hotel. (Photo by Carlos Vargas)

green lawn, palm trees and a white building with blue doors

Entry to Guest Rooms at The Monkey Tree Hotel

bed, blue sofa, white coffee table and yellow kitchen of a hotel room

King Kitchenette Room at The Monkey Tree Hotel

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