Modernism Week continues to impress and overwhelm. While we knew about the vintage trailer show, we had no idea how many activities were going on here and the rich cornucopia of walking tours, bus tours, lectures, house openings we could have taken advantage of, especially if money were no object. Because wealthy, important people have been gathering here for eighty years, many of their homes are worthy of notice and historical preservation. The talented architects they commissioned also left their mark on commercial buildings and hotels here. However, if you think of Palm Springs as the central city, it fell into disrepair and the rich and famous moved to the outskirts of the city into what could be thought of as suburbs. The same phenomena happened in many central cities all over the country. But now enough time has gone by to bring respect and admiration back to the work done here after World War II and many of the fees we are paying to see and learn will be going into historical preservation. Many of the facades of the buildings here have been designated as Class I historic sites and their appearance cannot be altered from what was originally intended.
The walking tour we took yesterday was a great way to closely examine one of the earliest neighborhoods where stars gathered and cavorted. Today we took a double decker bus tour, which gave us an overview of all the other neighborhoods where the glitterati settled to this day. Being on top of the bus gave us glimpses of the pools everyone has in their back yard, but the more modern neighborhoods were much more protective of their privacy with walls and dense landscaping. It is challenging to photograph these homes in the best of circumstances because they all have huge palm trees growing in front of them. If you include the top of the tree in the photo, the house is diminished and if you cut it off, it looks like the home is punctuated by telephone poles. In downtown Palm Springs many of the significant commercial spaces have been repurposed. Even the hospital has taken residence in a protected property. A building that was a bank can become retail space or a museum or loft living. But the facade is preserved and hints at what was there originally.
It would be fun to go inside some of the private homes that are opened for Modernism Week, but admission can easily cost close to $100. For people around here that is probably chump change, but we knew nothing about these homes before we came here. Now that we have cruised around on the bus, we have a better idea of what we would like to see even at that steep price. Sunnylands, where President Obama just met with Asian leaders in such a home, which people here think of as Camp David West. It also would have been interesting to attend some of the lectures given by the creative team that researched and produced the interiors and fashions that made the Madmen TV show so fascinating.
Modernism Week is an annual event and it is clear that we should return some other winter after saving our pennies and booking the tours months before they sell out. There are people here for this celebration of mid twentieth century architecture from literally all over the world. It would be fun to see the end result of all the preservation going on around here today when we come back.