In most markets, Mid-Century Modern homes are rare gems, but in Palm Springs, CA, they're the norm. Home to many fascinating examples of Atomic Age architecture, the desert city became the playground of Hollywood stars and starlets in the '50s and '60s, including the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
That's right -- sneering, gyrating music legend Elvis Presley once lived in the desert -- specifically, at this spectacular Space Age gem on the market for $6.93 million.
In 1967, hounded by paparazzi, Elvis and his wife-to-be, Priscilla, fled down a small pathway at the back of this house, jumped in a limo, and sped off to one of Frank Sinatra's personal jets, which took them to Las Vegas for a speedy wedding. After the nuptials, the King and his new queen made their way back to this home, and paid $21,000 to rent it for a year.
"The escape path is still there," says listing agent Eric G. Meeks. "It's a neat little escape route out back."
The 5,000-square-foot split-level house is defined by its geometric shapes. The front of the bedroom cantilevers over the street and is lined with floor-to-ceiling windows. Don't worry about privacy, though, because the floor-to-ceiling curtains block passers-by from witnessing any burning love.
To get to the King's former lair, lace up your blue suede shoes and walk up some stone steps and past a bubbling brook to the front door. If you have a suspicious mind, use the vintage intercom system to screen guests.
Once inside, you can swivel your hips in the circular living area, with its floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors, stone walls, and a 40-foot built-in couch.
Outside you can take a dip in the pentagonal pool -- one of several places in the home that served as a backdrop for a Jenny McCarthy Playboy photo shoot in 1995.
In the kitchen, traditional white cabinetry frames a circular, six-burner electric stove-island and a range hood that's as futuristic as it is functional. Smoke won't fill up the kitchen when you're cooking a chicken-fried steak, Meeks notes.
"The way it's designed -- it really does its job," says Meeks.
The home was dubbed by LOOK magazine in 1962 as "The House of Tomorrow" for a reason. Before it was a stop at the heartbreak hotel, it was the personal home of Robert Alexander, the builder who along with his father, George Alexander, lined the streets of Palm Springs with the sharp angles and glass walls of Mid-Century Modern homes.
With the help of architect William Krisel, the Alexanders and their business, the Alexander Construction Co., thought stylish modern housing could be built cheaply and would sell better than boxy postwar houses. They were right.
After the Alexanders began building these homes, Palm Springs perked up. Meeks says houses in the area during the '50s and '60s cost about $20,000 to $25,000. Eventually, the Alexanders started building high-end homes for wealthy people (including themselves). They built this five-bedroom, five-bathroom house in 1960.
"They made Palm Springs affordable for the masses and, in doing so, made themselves millions," Meeks says. Tragically, the Alexander family died in a plane crash in 1965. Their homes now fetch a premium in the desert.
The owners of this home, nicknamed the Honeymoon Hideaway, believe its unique history calls for a premium price. Meeks says it was originally listed at $9.5 million with another agent, but the price was recently reduced.
Meeks notes that the property is a "mild fixer" and will require some repairs, but the home's potential extends beyond ownership. The owners have the home decorated in Elvis memorabilia and charge for tours and brunches.
"Whoever owns this home will have the most famous home in Palm Springs," Meeks says.