It’s time again for fans of all things mid-century modern to descend upon the desert for Modernism Week, the annual architecture and design celebration hosted in the Coachella Valley. The “week” is 11 days filled with events, screenings, exhibitions, tours and more, happening Feb. 16-26.
One of the week’s highlights is a series of tours of the world-famous House of Tomorrow in Palm Springs. Some may know the house as Elvis Presley’s “Honeymoon Hideaway,” as Elvis celebrated his marriage with Priscilla Presley there in 1967.
The house, however, is notable beyond its association with Elvis: It’s a star on its own, as a waterfall, its unique shape, arches, large windows and its architectural pedigree make it a perfect house to be put on display during Modernism Week. There are multiple time slots available for the tour, from Thursday, Feb. 16, through Tuesday, Feb. 21.
“The House of Tomorrow first opened to the public during the fall (preview) Modernism Week, and it was a big hit,” said Paulina Larson, the director of marketing for Palm Springs Life, which is producing the House of Tomorrow tours. “We’re very fortunate to have the house be open again to the public, because we didn’t know the house would ever be open again. Having the ability to have it in the February tour is such a special thing for people in the desert.”
The house has been a tourist destination since Elvis got married; for years, the home hosted Elvis themed-tours. In 2020, however, the house was purchased by a new owner, who renovated and restored it.
“This is the time when people will be able to see it restored, and it will really appeal to a mid-century modern enthusiast,” Larson said.
Even before Elvis showed up for his honeymoon, the House of Tomorrow was a highlight among Palm Springs’ mid-century modern homes. It was built as the home of the Alexander family, of the Alexander Construction Company, which built many other mid-century modern homes in the area.
“The home was built in 1960 by architect William Krisel, and it was a custom-made home for Helene and Robert Alexander,” Larson said. “It’s been really interesting to be able to see the dramatic, original features that are in the house today. I think anybody who has the opportunity to preview it is going to see it in most of its original state. It has an original terrazzo floor, incredible windows and ceilings, a fireplace and a built-in sofa. I think all those things are just like stepping into a time capsule—that’s also a piece of art.”
Larson said Modernism Week offers a unique and special opportunity for people to see the “gem of a house.”
“Having worked the tours there, it’s just so popular. People from all walks of life come and see the house, even from the exterior,” Larson said. “So to have the ability now to welcome people into the house to see it, I think it’s very special. … If you want to see it, now’s the time.”
Larson said these tours focus more on the house itself than The King.
“They’d (previously) done honeymoon Elvis house tours, but they weren’t in this format, and the house hadn’t been restored,” Larson said. “It wasn’t attracting an architectural crowd. It was more of a, ‘Oh, come see where Elvis had his honeymoon’ tour. This is more for an architectural enthusiast. They are going to see the house in the best format possible and be able to appreciate all of the elements that went into restoring the home.”
It can be tricky to preserve architecturally significant homes. Thankfully, Larson said, the home’s new owners understand how the house is a true work of art.
“The renovations have been really great, because you’ve been able to see the vision that William Krisel had,” Larson said. “I think over the years, when nobody was really looking at these homes as architectural gems, there were a lot of changes that were made. You see that all through Palm Springs. They were either torn down, or there were additions made to them, where they added a garage, or where they added another room. They were really messing with the original footprint, so being able to see the home how it had been originally designed is pretty cool.”
Larson promised that tour attendees are in for a real treat.
“It’s a self-guided tour, but we will have someone in there providing information,” Larson said. “… The house is very large itself, so you can start the tour from the inside or from the outside. You’re able to see all the rooms in the house, and you’re able to see the exterior, so it’s a pretty fantastic tour.”
Modernism Week takes place from Thursday, Feb. 16, through Sunday, Feb. 26. The House of Tomorrow will be open for tours from Thursday, Feb. 16, through Tuesday, Feb. 21. Tickets are $55 for the 30-minute tour, or $100 for the hour-long tour and reception. For tickets and more information, visit modernismweek.com.
The house is a beauty, from wherever you look at it, and it does not have a single 90 degree angle. But let’s face it, it wasnt built by Le Corbusier and arquitecture is without a doubt the least “popular” of all the arts. Take it from the lunacy of Frank Lloyd Wright. He was once interviwed by a young Mike Wallace and asked point blamck which group of youth, the Frank Lloyd Wright fans or the Elvis Presley fans, did Wright think were to “inherit” the country in 1972, almolst at the end of a CBS radio broadcast which took place on January 9, 1957. His answer? “The Frank Lloyd Wright fans!! Undoubtedly. Why? Because they’re on the side of Nature and the others are on the side of an artificiality that is doomed” Not even Wallace believed hm so he doubkd down, but Wright woukd nit budge. Sixty six years later, it is Graceland, and the Tupelo birthplace, not the Mr. Kaufmann house, Falling Water included, to whom some 22 million tourists have come visit, from 1982 to this date, and from the 4 corners of the world. The Wright house opened to the public in 2004, and has thus received more than thrice and a half LESS the number of visitors, a great majority from North America and Europe. The unvarnished truth is that sometimes pompous statements as those coming, albeit somewhat hidden, from the new owners, eventually backfire. It is not just a matter of virtuosity…
Comments are closed.