Just in time for Palm Springs’ signature event―Modernism Week―a 1956 post-and-beam desert home has come to market for $2.2 million. Located in the city’s Deepwell neighborhood, the glass-rich 3,734-square-foot residence represents precisely what the famed Palm Springs week celebrates: classic midcentury architecture and design.
In the four-bedroom home, which starts with walls of glass overlooking a just-built pool and spa, the L-shaped living area’s sunken bar services guests just off a conveniently located sliding patio door. The home’s terrazzo floating fireplace, six skylights and clerestory windows―plus an attached casita―cement the residence’s midcentury cred.
Palm Springs’ Modernism Week, running this year from Feb. 16-26, celebrates such homes. The 11-day festival includes 350 events: home, architecture and garden tours; art, design, fashion and classic car shows; lectures, and ubiquitous cocktail parties. An additional scaled-down Modernism Week is held in October.
Midcentury parties held in the Deepwell home were no doubt legendary given that it was built for a former Rockette, a dancer in the near-century-old precision dance company, the Rockettes, which performs in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.
The home may indeed have witnessed a poolside kickline during the late 1950s but, more importantly, it harbors what all retired Rockettes crave: an expansive ensuite primary bedroom, quite spacious at 748 square feet, with two huge walk-in closets.
“Everyone marvels that there are two big walk-in closets,” says Alfred Pignat who, with his husband, Jim King, bought the house in 2009. “They were custom-built for her. We have a framed black-and-white photo of Radio City Music Hall that’s been passed down from one of the owners and we’ll give it to the next owners.”
The couple is selling as they’ll be retiring in Hawaii―where the rarity of duo walk-in closets will no doubt confound them.
“The primary bedroom side of the home is really one big suite,” says Realtor Carol Traylor, who holds the listing with Ginny Peacock. Both agents are with EQTY (Palm Springs and Newport Beach). On the home’s north end is an office and two bedrooms, each with a bathroom―one is spacious. “If you have guests,” Traylor adds, “it’s great to have that separation―they’re on the complete opposite side of the house.”
The primary bathroom also features a step-down shower with a view of the mountains.
Behind the one-story home are head-on views of Mount San Jacinto and surrounding foothills―an ever-changing cinematic landscape enjoyed from the patio and pool. In winter, the sunset view includes snow-capped mountains.
“The neighborhood of Deepwell is cradled by mountains on two sides,” Traylor says. “It sits in the elbow of two ranges―the Santa Rosa and the San Jacinto Mountains.”
In notoriously windy Palm Springs, that siting is crucial during the gusty season (April through June) when cafe umbrellas elsewhere easily topple from the gusts. The neighborhood is located in southern Palm Springs―far from the San Gorgonio Pass, which sweeps wind into the valley.
“Our house, like many in Palm Springs, doesn’t have windows or a porch looking out to the street,” Pignat says. “It’s what they called, ‘discreet from the street.’” For celebrities who valued Palm Springs as a haven from gossip columnists and nosy fans―the desert oasis is a mere 100-plus miles from Hollywood―a low street profile was essential.
No matter, because such homes are oriented to the real show: the spectacular poolside mountain views. “Every room has an entry to the back―with access to the pool or spa, the patio and various sitting areas, and there’s shade from a pergola,” Pignat says. “The home has a real entertainer’s vibe, especially with the sunken bar.”
Still, the home’s facade, primarily clad in white stucco, serves up understated elegance. A concrete block wall is painted a snappy aqua contrasted by the front doorframe done in vivid lime green. Stepping inside, past the door’s rippled glass face, a glass wall to the left partially frames an atrium (the area behind the aqua concrete block wall).
The open L-shaped living area is straight ahead: the dining room, living room, family room and, further to the right, an office.
The galley kitchen, laid with a Saltillo tile floor, is off the family room and includes an additional small dining area leading to the backyard. The kitchen also has a built-in brick oven for rotisseries and pizza that’s gas-powered.
Floors in the home are either ceramic or porcelain white tile. A door near the kitchen leads to the laundry and a walk-in pantry as well as the home’s two-car garage, which includes a charger for electric vehicles.
A 350-square-foot (approximate) attached casita with a dedicated entry was added onto the home in the 1960s. “It can be used for guests, as an office, studio or it can even be rented out,” says Traylor, adding that the space has a bath and kitchenette.
The owners installed a new roof in 2020 and added a new pool and spa in 2021.
The backyard includes seven fruit trees: orange, lemon and grapefruit. There are more than 30 varieties of palm trees on the lot, which fans out slightly to the rear to create the generous backyard.
The home’s owners say their Deepwell neighborhood, one of 52 in Palm Springs, is especially vital given its enduring neighbor relations. King was chairman of Deepwell’s Neighborhood Watch program from 2009-2019.
“We have block captains on every single block,” King says of the program, organized by the Deepwell Estate Neighborhood Organization that holds various events: garden tours, plant swaps, film nights and poolside parties, among others.
“Deepwell homes are not cookie cutter,” Traylor says. “They have nice size lots with mature landscaping. It’s very pedestrian friendly.” Homes in the neighborhood are a mix of midcentury modern, ranch-style and Spanish colonial architecture.
Scores of notable figures have called Deepwell home, many establishing residences there in the 1950s. The shortlist: Elizabeth Taylor, William Holden, Tippi Hedren, Marjorie Main, Loretta Young, Julie London, Jack Webb, Eddie Fisher, Jerry Lewis, Gavin MacLeod, Eva Gabor, Carmen Miranda and hot dog mogul Oscar Mayer.
The 1955 William Holden Estate, designed by master builder Joe Pawling, is among the largest and most notable of Deepwell’s homes. The sleek five-bedroom residence was designated a historic site in 2018.
The King and Pignat home is located about two miles southeast of downtown Palm Springs and is a 10-minute walk from Smoke Tree Village shopping center. The Ace Hotel & Swim Club on East Palm Canyon Drive is a 14-minute walk away―one of numerous properties, along with events, that in recent years have turned Palm Springs into a youthful capital of cool.