On our cross-country road trip from New York to California, my boyfriend and I stopped for three nights in Joshua Tree. We arrived just a couple of days after the start of the New Year, the penultimate stop before arriving at our destination in San Diego.
Joshua Tree was fascinating. It was insanely quiet; I was shocked by how quiet it was. Even when we were outside going for a walk, whispering felt like the only appropriate default volume for conversation.
As many people are aware, Joshua Tree is quite close to Palm Springs, the desert town known for its status as sole filming location for season 16 of The Bachelorette. I’m kidding. It’s mostly known, of course, as a mecca of midcentury modern architecture.
These desert time capsules are some of my favorite to marvel at on the internet — I know I’m not alone in that passion. When gathering the homes to feature for this week’s newsletter, I couldn’t help but think: Is this edition going to be too one-note? Maybe it is. But will anyone really care all that much?
The iconic Kaufmann Desert House
The Kaufman Desert House is so iconic that it even has its own Wikipedia page. The 3,162-square-foot retreat was designed in 1946 by architect Richard Neutra and commissioned by Edgar J. Kaufmann, the same man who commissioned Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright. You may recognize the house from that Slim Aarons photograph, Poolside Gossip.
The midcentury modern home has changed hands several times since it was built, and has even had quite a few celebrity names on the deed. Notable residents include Barry Manilow and Eugene V. Klein, the late owner of the football team once known as the San Diego Chargers. Architectural historian Beth Edwards Harris bought the property in 1992 for $1.5 million with her now ex-husband, and contracted Marmol Radziner + Associates to restore the home back to its original design. That project took five years.
It's been on the market several times in recent years, first at a Christie’s auction where it was sold for $15 million, but that sale fell through. Then in 2008 it went up for sale for $12.95 million (a Great Recession steal!) before coming off the market and re-listing in October 2020 for $25 million. The price hasn’t changed since it went on the market four months ago. [Sotheby’s International Realty]
An affordable desert retreat standing less than 1k sq. ft.
For the 99% of us that can’t afford a $25 million midcentury modern home, this petite 957-square-foot residence offers an achievable fantasy. Built in 1964, this two-bed, one and a half-bath condo has been recently remodeled and now features a stylish kitchen with stainless steel appliances, brand new windows and sliders, and updated plumbing and electric. Designed by Charles Dubois, this home is part of the Desert Lanai community and sits on a 0.03-acre lot. The asking price is $342,000. [Sotheby’s International Realty]
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