Around 1,200 Alexander Construction Company homes were built in Palm Springs, CA, in the late 1950s and early ’60s. When one of these classic midcentury home floats onto the market, it’s a big deal.
“The minute they come on the market—if they’re well-priced, they’re gone in a heartbeat,” says the listing agent, Scott Histed of Bennion Deville Homes.
Histed has the listing for the Morse Residence, a 3,711-square-foot home built in 1961 in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood that is currently listed for $4.5 million.
“There’s only three [on the market] in the neighborhood right now,” he says.
Constructed by George and Bob Alexander, and designed by Dan Palmer and William Krisel, many Alexander Construction Co. homes sprouted in this west side neighborhood. “It’s one of the few upscale neighborhoods [in Palm Springs] that has midcentury modern architecture that’s not on leased land,” says Histed.
A quick walk from downtown Palm Springs, the Morse Residence is close to the late actress Dinah Shore’s former home (designed by Donald Wexler in 1964 and now owned by Leonardo DiCaprio) as well as Elvis Presley’s honeymoon hideaway, which finally sold in December for $2.6 million.
Around 350 Alexander Construction Co. homes remain in this neighborhood, and “They all have a different flair,” says Histed.
They also all remain extremely sought after.
“On any given Saturday morning, the streets are packed with people looking at architecture,” the agent adds.
The agent is particularly familiar with this home, since he owned the three-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom home with his partner between 2004 and 2006.
They sold it to a Hollywood producer who held onto it until 2010, when the current owner bought it.
“I lived in the house and know it well,” Histed says.
Restoration over the years—while keeping the midcentury bones intact—included the addition of a new powder room and the conversion of the carport into a garage. Terrazzo flooring throughout (including the sidewalk and around the pool) was restored, and all the original Phylrich hardware was taken apart and replated.
Iconic Atomic Age features, like a sunken living room, stone walls, and Malm fireplace, are matched with a desert essential: an outdoor pool. This pool actually features a swim-up bar to the living room. A sliding glass door disappears, to open the pool right into the interior living space.
Due to its classification as an historic site, the property is also eligible for Mills Act tax credits through the California Office of Historic Preservation.
Updates also include features that aren’t always visible to the naked eye.
“All the systems, of course, have been updated, and the electrical, too,” says Histed.
The current owners, who perform in a vintage-rock band called The Gand Band, finished this restoration and decided to look for new challenges.
“They’re ready to move on to the next one,” says Histed, adding that they have just bought another home in Vista Las Palmas.
Will a design lover or someone enamored with the midcentury aesthetic snap this one up? It may go to a buyer who currently resides outside the desert.
“We’re doing some marketing out of state, especially in New York, because we think the style and the vibe of the house will resonate,” says Histed. “There are people out there who collect designer houses. I believe this house will sell to someone like that. It could be an art gallery owner.”
Proving that Palm Springs is shedding its retirement-community reputation, Histed notes that “techie people in their 30s and 40s” now make up a significant share of the buying pool.
“They’re feeling time to get in [to the market] is now,” he says.
Especially those coming from large cities.
“People can sell a house in L.A. for $10 million and walk away with $5 million in their pocket,” the agent adds. “Every house in this neighborhood sells for cash. A lot of people are buying them now with the intention to retire in a few years.”
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