by Theta Pavis
Sinatra loved Palm Springs and helped put it on the map. He wasn’t alone: plenty of his Rat Pack pals liked it too. The desert town offered a wonderful getaway from the east coast and the pace of Vegas and Hollywood. But Sinatra apparently liked Palm Springs so much that one house in the area wasn’t enough: he had to have two.
Twin Palms, the modern, iconic home he had built in the 1940s is not only still standing, but available for private tours and even rentals. Twin Palms does a few tours every month (with a minimum 45 people or more) and the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation also gives a large group tour twice a year. Sinatra’s named his second home “Villa Maggio” for the role he played as Private Angelo Maggio in the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity. Tucked above Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley (where it’s also 20 degrees cooler) guests who didn’t want to drive could be brought in via helicopter. Finished in 1970, the rustic, lodge-style home features a main house, guest house and pool house – with a total of nine fireplaces. It’s also for sale for just under $4 million.
One visit to Palm Springs and you can easily see the allure. The restaurant scene is vibrant and it’s fun to “see and be seen” when eating al fresco. There’s high-end shopping galore, hiking and terrific hotels, but the area has also become a major draw for architecture enthusiasts in love with the midcentury modernist style so popular here. (The next Modernism Week—focusing specifically on design and architecture—is slated for February 2016.)
In honor of Sinatra, many local organizations are hosting special events throughout 2015-2016, including walking tours by the Palm Springs Historical Society. A “modernist” tour, hosted by the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, will even take you inside several homes, including Twin Palms, as well as Elizabeth Taylor’s house and many other celebrity hideaways. The local Bureau of Tourism (visitpalmsprings.com) has information on numerous other activities, including events in December timed around Sinatra’s birthday.