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Winter 2021

A BIG THANK YOU to all of you who signed up to help us as docents for our Modernism Week events in Rancho Mirage.

Apologies for late notification – especially to those who signed up after November and missed the first confirmation email. You will be receiving details from us later this week about where to check in for the date you selected. If you said ‘AM or PM’ we will tell you which we selected for you.

Please be patient – there’s a lot to organize with 100 docents, two tours, four shifts and lots of tasks!

Please add these emails to your contacts so that you receive notifications from our docent committee:

In the meantime, a couple of other events in Rancho Mirage also need help. See below. (Note that contact details are different for the tours below, as these are not Preservation Mirage tours.)


Modernism Week 2022

It’s going ahead as of time of writing, with masks required for visitors and docents. We hope to see some of you at our Preservation Mirage walking tour of the Tamarisk neighborhood on Friday, February 25th. It is now sold out. It’s a two-hour walking tour on quiet streets, where you’ll see homes by Cody, Kaptur, Krisel, Powelson, Wexler, and some of the best modernist homes in the valley.

The tour of Magnesia Falls Cove ‘Where Rancho Mirage Began’ that Preservation Mirage is presenting with Rancho Mirage Community Association takes place on February 19th. It is SOLD OUT. And we’re happy to report that we do have enough docents. PLEASE NOTE: If you signed up to help as a docent for either or both Feb 19th and Feb 25th tours, you will be hearing from us very soon! In the meantime, a couple of other Rancho Mirage tours have asked us for help with docents. Please read below and send your details to the email address listed in the information for the tour that you would like to help. DO NOT email Preservation Mirage for either tour below!

Docents needed for: “A VISIT TO TAMARISK WEST” Modernism Week tour Sunday, February 20th, 8 am – 5 pm A visionary mid-century modern residential community designed by noted architect S. Charles Lee, is almost SOLD OUT! If you haven’t already signed up and if you are interested in being a docent for this event, let Tamarisk West organizers know as soon as possible and save yourself $95 on the ticket price! The tour features seven of the 22 homes built in Tamarisk West in 1964. Several of the homes include impressive arrays of vintage mid-century art and furniture by Milo Baughman, Arthur Elrod, Paul McCobb. Docents needed for two shifts morning: 8:00 am to 12 noon afternoon: 11:30am to 5 pm. Email your name, contact details, and shift preferred to: Please note different email address! This is being organized by Tamarisk West. Docents needed for: Barry Berkus’ Chalet Palms - A Vision for Community Resort Living Tour Barry Berkus’ midcentury modern gem, Chalet Palms. Explore the condo interiors and stroll the terraced, park-like 3 acres featuring flat-roofs, shadow-block walls and A-frame courtyards. $60 (4-hour window). Shifts: We would love to fill two slots for each of the two, 2 hour shifts 9-11 or from 11-1. If anyone wants to stay the full four hours (9-1) they are welcome to as well. Small bites and refreshments will be on site and before or after the shifts, volunteers are of course welcome to experience the tour. Contact: Michael Dyer Email your name, contact details, and shift preferred to: Please note different email address! This is being organized by Chalet Palms.


Preservation Sessions

Our Preservation Session was on February 1st at 5pm PST, presented by Sidney Williams, the session was ‘E. Stewart Williams, FAIA and his Rancho Mirage legacy.’

E. Stewart Williams was a prolific Palm Springs architect whose distinctive modernist buildings significantly shaped the Coachella Valley's architectural landscape and legacy.

In 1946 Stewart Williams arrived in Palm Springs to join his father, Harry, and his brother Roger in architectural practice. One of his first projects was designing a house for Frank Sinatra called ‘Twin Palms.’ Subsequently, he designed additional homes in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. Sidney Williams, former curator of architecture and design at the Palm Springs Art Museum and daughter-in-law of Stewart Williams, discussed Stew’s Rancho Mirage projects. Primarily focusing on the Kenaston House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and locally on Rancho Mirage’s list of historic properties. It is a story of a house that retains its character and authenticity as each successive owner takes on a respectful stewardship of the home.

Note: this event reached capacity. It will be viewable on our YouTube page, accessible via our website.


Architecture Map

If you’re a resident of Rancho Mirage, you should have received your copy of the Preservation Mirage Architecture Map and you’re already enjoying exploring the city.

Maps were mailed to homeowners in mid-November. If you didn’t receive one, both the City Hall and the Rancho Mirage Library have copies (when they re-open). Perhaps you identified a major blooper: the reversal of the Eisenhower Medical Center and the Omni Rancho Las Palmas.

We apologize to anyone who was confused or upset by the error. We hope that you will pardon our imperfections and will instead relish the significant amount of useful information that was compiled on the architectural history of Rancho Mirage, which of course was the main reason for the map. We know that along the way there will be additions and changes and we’ll make them to our online version. In due course we hope to generate a more interactive version for smartphones, tablets, etc. Some queried the omission of e.g. the Springs and Sunrise (and other country clubs). The map is not intended to be for way finding – it’s not to scale; its purpose is to highlight architecture and history, therefore clubs that were included fit these criteria. Hotels were added at the last minute to help with way finding but unfortunately our eyes were not on that particular ball when it came to proof reading!

For members living outside Rancho Mirage, a downloadable, corrected PDF of the map is available on the Preservation Mirage website for a donation of $5.


New board member

We are delighted to welcome new board member, Nathan Jacroux. Nathan is living full time in Rancho Mirage, where he has owned a home since 2012. He is a senior marketing executive with a passion for design and architecture and has lovingly restored a 1907 Transitional Arts & Crafts Mills Act property in Angeleno Heights, Los Angeles first HPOZ.

He reached out to Preservation Mirage late last year when fellow board member Bob Berg made a presentation at City Hall about the Architecture Map. He signed up on our website ‘Volunteer page’ detailing his background. We met him via Zoom and were immediately impressed by Nathan’s enthusiasm for marketing as well as architecture. It is a winning combination for Preservation Mirage as we work on expanding our community outreach.

We are always looking for volunteers. Be like Nathan! Go to the ‘Volunteer’ tab on our website. If you feel like you have time to contribute and skills that you think we can use, we’d love to hear from you.


Thunderbird Cottages by William F. Cody

Some of our members may recall that nearly four years ago, Thunderbird Country Club proposed a redevelopment of the historic Cody Cottages at the club. These cottages date back to the early 1950s and are the last remaining original buildings at the legendary club. The plans were put on the backburner during the early days of the pandemic, but now it seems that, with renewed interest, Thunderbird is planning to forge ahead.

1954 Thunderbird Cottages – vintage image

Vintage postcard of the Cody Cottages

Planned ‘so-called’ redevelopment

The ‘so-called ‘redevelopment’ would create 18 cottages where there are now currently 12.

The Thunderbird Cottages by William F. Cody were completed in 1954 and are on the City of Rancho Mirage Historic Resources list as a result of the 2003 Historic Resources Survey. Although two of them were lost to demolition when the new clubhouse was built in 2002, the remaining 12 have survived remarkably intact. They were built to provide additional accommodation for members and their guests. Over the decades they have welcomed numerous famous people from Hollywood celebrities to political dignitaries. Betty Ford rented one of them while waiting for the Ford residence to be completed at Thunderbird. She and her husband President Gerald Ford had rented a house in Thunderbird Heights, but she preferred being in the center of things, so chose to relocate to a cottage instead.

Their simple, long-gable design, which was a Cody signature at the time, has remained unaltered. They are the only visual and physical reminder of the club’s storied history, since other community buildings by Cody were long ago demolished. The cottages feature in several books, including Thunderbird’s own ‘50th Anniversary’ book by Bob Windeler, as well as ‘Mod Mirage’ and most recently, ‘Master of the Midcentury – the Architecture of William F. Cody’ by his daughter Catherine Cody, Jo Lauria, and Don Choi. (The authors will be speaking on Cody’s work during Modernism Week in February).

Preservation Mirage plans to join forces with other preservation groups in the valley to oppose the club’s plans for this most important historic resource in Rancho Mirage. We will be in touch with members soon to let you know next steps.

As the National Trust for Historic Preservation reminds us: “It’s your memory. It’s our history. It’s worth saving.”



We are making several improvements and additions to the website that we want to draw to your attention. We’ve added an ‘In the News’ section where you can find past newsletters, as well as our YouTube page, and media coverage as we receive it – the map received a lot of attention. Instead of ‘Preservation Sessions’ you’ll find an ‘Events’ tab, where Modernism Week events are detailed as well as online and in-person sessions. You’ll also find our Facebook page has taken on a new look, thanks to board member Nathan Jacroux.


Help preserve our architectural legacy If you see something, say something! Preservation is a community activity. If you see a city permit sign go up in front of a property that looks historic (1930s – 1970s), whatever that permit says, email us at, and we’ll check it out. Tell your friends about Preservation Mirage. Become a ‘Neighborhood Leader’ and help to grow the interest and enthusiasm for preserving our historic community.

How can Preservation Mirage help you? If you or a friend own a historic home in Rancho Mirage or think you do, we can help you discover its history. If you want to get work done on a historic home but need advice on the best way forward, or need help with finding historically appropriate finishes, for example, get in touch. We have access to numerous historic archives and research resources. If you’re thinking about approaching the City of Rancho Mirage for a historic designation, we can advise you on the requirements and how to obtain the information you’ll need.



Preservation Mirage is a registered nonprofit 501 (c (3) entity. Membership is free, but donations are always welcome. Donate, volunteer, engage with us online at on Instagram @preservationmirage and via Facebook.


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