Palm Springs living – Midcentury Style – About the Much Celebrated Alexander Homes
The Palm Springs Modernism Movement began with custom-homes and hotel designs by the likes of Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, and Albert Frey. It was not until 1956, thirty-four years after Schindler’s first modern home was built in Palm Springs that the Alexander Construction Company broke onto the Palm Springs scene and built the Ocotillo Lodge Hotel.
Before the Alexander home tracts were built throughout Palm Springs, The Ocotillo Lodge, now a condo-style hotel in the mid-century modern genre, located in South Palm Springs in the Twin Palms neighborhood, was the first collaboration between Alexander and architects Dan Palmer and William Krisel in 1956, a pairing that over the next few years would redefine the architectural and demographic landscape of Palm Springs residential real estate.
Throughout the 1950’s and early 1960’s, George Alexander’s building company was a powerhouse in the Southern California post-war housing boom – and especially in Palm Springs, Ca. More than 2,000 Alexander homes were built in Palm Springs during this approximately ten year span.
Palm Springs Midcentury Homes – Meet the Alexander Home
At first, Alexander homes were designed for sheer production efficiency, but in 1957, Krisel and Palmer came to Palm Springs in conjunction with the Alexander Construction Company with a new concept: to build stylish modern-style tract homes with clean lines and simple elegance that were affordable and even more efficiently producible.
In the late 1950s, the mass production of mid-century modern Alexander style of tract homes was an untested and somewhat revolutionary idea from relatively unknown architects. George Alexander agreed with architect Bill Krisel to a trial run of building ten homes, with more to follow if the experiment was a success. Today, the Alexander is widely coveted by young and old alike, and Bill Kriesel, living in the Los Angeles area and in his eighties, has become a folk hero of mid-century modern home enthusiasts.
Midcentury Modern is Big in Palm Springs – 1,200 Alexander Homes
In 1957, full-scale production of single-family Alexander homes (most with private pools) began in Palm Springs in the neighborhood of Twin Palms Estates, directly south of highway 111 and south of the Ocotillo Lodge, after the first mid-century modern tract homes were met with great enthusiasm. In all, Alexander would build some 2,500 of the Krisel/Palmer-designed homes, setting the tone for a modern-to-the-masses building movement.
Alexander homes were among the first homes in Palm Springs to come with large and deep standard in-ground swimming pools, many with diving boards, a feature that made Palm Springs more enjoyable in the season and much more welcoming in the summer.
Many of the new Alexanders even came with some landscaping – with two palm trees, for example – which is how the Twin Palms Neighborhood of Palm Springs gets its name. Starting at a cost of about $30,000 dollars when initially built in 1957, Alexander homes made Palm Springs affordable for the every-day vacation homeowner population. Today Alexanders are available for sale in the $275,000 (fixer), to $500,000 and the largest most nicely restored and updated sell into the $800,000 to $1 million range.
About 1200 Palm Springs Alexanders were built between the years of 1957 through 1966 in Palm Springs Ca by the Alexander Construction Company. There are 11 neighborhoods total; below are the most popular neighborhoods where Alexander homes, ranging in price from $300,000 to $1,000,000, are available for you to buy. For more info on buying a Palm Springs Alexander, email Brendan Lenihan, Real Estate Broker or call Brendan directly at (760) 459-7780.
Approx 1600 sq/ft
North Twin Palms Dr. South/East
La Verne Way West S. Camino Real330 Homes
Approx 2100-2200 sq/ft
West of Monte Vista
Built: 1957-1958 Approx 1225 sq/ftEast of Indian Canyon Dr
North of Racquet Club Rd.140 Homes
Approx 1287 sq/ft
North of Tahquitz Canyon
East of Farrell Dr.80 Homes30 Homes50 Homes7 Homes30 Homes30 Homes30 Homes
The homes were designed by Architect William Krisel, AIA, who used innovative design that was guided by meeting strict construction budgets.
The Alexanders, often compared to the Northern California Eichler homes because of similarities in clean lines and indoor-outdoor design, are an excellent example of mid-twentieth century “mass meets midcentury modern” design. The Alexander homes were built in neighborhood tracts, bringing unique modern design and making it affordable to the masses. The Alexander homes have very similar floor plans but the unique rooflines, variety in front finishes, the placement of the properties on the lots, make the neighborhoods look more like a collection of custom built homes.
The Palm Springs Alexander Homes Key features:
- Clean Lines, Streamlined Floor Plans
- Light and Bright Abundance of Windows
- Expansive windows connecting indoor and outdoor living spaces
- Post-and-beam construction
- Private pools, rectangular or free-form in shape
- Exposed wood beam ceiling
- No trim or moldings around windows and doors
- Open breezeway connecting the home and carport
- Open floor plans
- Distinctive rooflines: Flat, slanted, or butterfly-shaped
- Exteriors finished with two-tone wood, patterned brick, native stone or decorative concrete block
In addition, there were a few (numbering in the handfuls rather than hundreds) Alexander style houses built scattered style in custom home neighborhoods in other nearby Palm Springs area communities such as Rancho Mirage, CA and Palm Desert CA.
Brendan Lenihan knows Palm Springs modern homes from a hands-on and involved perspective.
“Meiselman Homes” in Palm Springs
Similar to the Alexander Construction family, Jack and Bernie Meiselman built affordable mid-twentieth-century modern post and beam homes in Palm Springs California during the years of 1959-1960. In fact, these homes are so similar to the popular Alexander houses that Meiselman midcentury modern homes in Palm Springs that they are often compared to and sometimes mistaken for Alexander homes.
Meiselman and Alexander mid-century modern homes share many similar architectural attributes. Characterized by crisp clean lines, butterfly roofs, and soaring clerestory windows – the Meiselmans used post and beam construction, with tongue and groove ceilings, and architecturally sculpted concrete block as shade blocks and as a design element.
Decorative concrete blocks provide both form and function, design and sun shade, for Palm Springs Alexanders and Meiselman homes.
The Meiselman homes and the Alexander homes helped define the carefree and sunny indoor / outdoor modern living lifestyle that Palm Springs is world famous for.
Meiselman houses feature large walls of glass that overlook the pool and the beautiful mountain backdrops in Palm Springs. Most Meiselman homes also included central heating and air conditioning, a new concept at the time they were built in 1959, which allowed residents year round enjoyment of their Palm Springs vacation homes.
Similar use of materials and architectural style often makes it difficult to tell an Alexander home from a Meiselman. Several distinct differences can help you determine whether you’re in a Meiselman or Alexander:
Meiselman homes have a small galley-style kitchen adjacent to the living room, while Alexander homes have a kitchen that opens onto to the great room living area room and dining room space.
Meiselman homes generally have a master suite that is separate from the other guest room, while the Alexander house layout features each of the three bedrooms lined up in a row (separated by closets) on the same side of the house.
Windows are different in Meiselman houses. Clerestory windows near the top of the roofline are smaller and shorter than those of Alexander homes.
Unlike Alexander homes where the roofline varies from house to house borrowing from A-frame pitched style, flat, and butterfly, the Meiselman homes are more sharply angular and primarily make use of Butterfly rooflines.
The site, location, and placement of the Meiselman properties is also unique from Alexanders. While the Alexander family of builders bought large plots of land to develop and built dozens (even hundreds) of similar homes in specific neighborhood tracts, Meiselman midcentury modern homes were built on scattered sites, one or two at a time, diffused throughout different neighborhoods of central and north Palm Springs, Ca.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, about 2,500 homes were built by the Alexander Construction Company. Meiselman built fewer than 200 houses, making Meiselman midcentury modern homes much more rare than Alexanders.
You’ll find Meiselman homes available for sale located in the Palm Springs neighborhoods of Desert Park Estates, Sunrise Park-Central Palm Springs, and Victoria Park. To buy a Palm Springs Alexander or Meiselman home, contact Brendan Lenihan, local Palm Springs Realtor and Real Estate Broker, phone