Palm Springs Day Finale...

Part three of our day in Palm Springs involves Art, Trailer Park History, and Big Horn Sheep. The desert is truly diverse.

Sunnylands' current public art exhibition, In Motion: Agam at Sunnylands, recalls the role Leonore Annenberg played in bringing the work of the world-famous artist, Yaacov Agam, to the Coachella Valley.
From 1972 to 1976, Mrs. Annenberg was president of the Palm Springs Desert (now Art) Museum’s board of trustees, and she oversaw the opening of its E. Stewart Williams building with an inaugural Agam exhibition. Fascinated by Agam’s art, the Annenbergs acquired the sculpture Square Waves from the museum’s 1976 exhibition and later commissioned Agam to provide sculptures and outdoor paintings for their home. Their wide-ranging collection played an important visual role at Sunnylands.
Today's exhibition featured selections from the collections of the Palm Springs Art Museum and Sunnylands to highlight Agam’s kinetic art. With its emphasis on movement, Agam’s works pushed the boundaries of visual art and influenced his own and subsequent generations of artists. It was so cool literally, and figuratively, and the ideal way to end our visit to this amazing estate.
Next was a mini, self-guided driving tour to learn how Palm Springs was the 'jeweled showcase of mobile living' in the '50s and '60s. Some background is needed. Mobile home living began in the 1950s with compact, comfortable shelters being sold at a low cost, enabling “trailerites” to travel about the country in their small-wheeled homes. Palm Springs was said to be the “jeweled showcase of mobile living” because it had captured the simplified luxury and informal elegance of this latest American phenomenon.
Approximately 32 trailer parks were located throughout the Coachella Valley during the height of its popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s. These parks welcomed visitors who flocked to the desert to enjoy the sun and warm weather during the winter months. Many seasonal renters returned to the same trailer park year after year.

The trailer parks provided a wide degree of luxury with rental space as low as $25 to well over $100 a month. Each trailer park was a community unto itself including its own stores, cafes, barber and beauty shops, as well as full programs of entertainment and activities. After their wanderlust was satisfied, many seasonal residents made these parks their year-round homes.

Ramon Trailer Park was one of the earliest mobile home parks in Palm Springs. Developed in the early 1930s by John Williams, the park was heralded throughout the country for its modern design. The state of California developed its guidelines for the development of future mobile home parks from Williams’ master plan.
Offering an array of activities throughout the winter season, these bustling communities brought in professional and amateur players to participate in inter-park shuffleboard tournaments during the midcentury. Beautiful heated pools added to the outdoor lifestyle and square dancing and potluck dinners provided the “indoor sport.”
Today, Ramon Mobile Park and RV is still one of the most popular parks in Palm Springs. It consists of more than 250 mobile homes located on a 20-acre parcel. Due to the renewed interest in mobile home living and the park’s convenient location and affordable rent, it is a highly desirable alternative to condominiums or single-family residences.
Some trailers look much like they did decades ago.
While others have been added onto, while still keeping the midcentury original visible.

Here's an extra special Village! Bing Crosby invested in a planned luxury trailer park in Rancho Mirage that was named after his hit song “Blue Skies.” He enlisted his Hollywood friends like George Burns, Gracie Allen, Barbara Stanwyck, Greer Garson, Jack Benny, Claudette Colbert and Danny Kaye to invest in the project and then named the streets in his well-planned community after the invested stars.

The desert already had several trailer parks for transient tourists, but when Blue Skies Village opened on Nov. 5, 1955 it was a step up, with superior planning, architectural controls, landscaping and community services.

We never really knew about these hidden treasures. An oasis for certain.
After our day in the City, we took the more nature based route home. For miles, we were promised BIGHORN SHEEP.
Just when I had given up hope, I spotted this ewe and her lamb. What a fabulous way to end our day. Palm Springs is heading up the list of favorite cities. Loved it all.

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Palm Springs Day Part 2: Sunnylands

Our second and final event with Modernism Week was a historic walk at Sunnylands Center & Gardens.

Sunnylands emerged onto the world stage when the historic estate was completed in 1966. It has since welcomed eight U.S. presidents and world leaders, public intellectuals, celebrities, and friends and family. On many occasions, guests have engaged in dialogue that led to efforts to enhance international understanding and civil discourse.
In the mid-1960s, Walter and Leonore Annenberg began their quest to create a midcentury modern residence in Rancho Mirage.
The Annenbergs were extraordinary philanthropists, designating more than $3 billion in grants and gifts to major research universities, hospitals, medical centers, public schools, and cultural and civic organizations. And for more than 40 years, these ambassadors entertained at their 200-acre winter estate. In 2001, the couple established The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands to preserve this as a place where world leaders could meet to discuss issues of national and international importance (free of cost).
For our Historic Walk, we met Shandra, our knowledgeable guide who took us, and another couple, on a leisurely walk onto the estate. This 60-minute stroll focused on the history of Sunnylands, the Annenbergs and their guests, midcentury modern architecture, and design.

The Annebergs kept everything, including all their guest books. What a who's who of awesome visitors! Business leaders and philanthropists like David Rockefeller, Warren Buffett, Edmond and Lily Safra, and Bill and Melinda Gates came in the 1990s. Literary and media figures were always part of the crowd. Truman Capote came in 1968 followed by Newton Minow, Ann Landers, and Sidney Sheldon. Television anchors, including Barbara Walters, Peter Jennings, Andrea Mitchell, and Diane Sawyer, were guests in later years.
A little about the 25,000 sq. ft. home. The pinnacle of midcentury style, an English country estate reimagined for the American desert, there is no other house like Sunnylands. A stately home, designed by A. Quincy Jones, one of California’s most significant architects, it contains the only completely preserved interior by Hollywood’s legendary decorator-to-the-stars, William Haines, that is open to the public.

“There is no other midcentury modern house on this scale or of this integrity
that reflects such a golden moment in California history."
Architect Jones, a dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, wanted to help the Annenbergs create an estate that didn't emulate classical European styles but instead looked forward. This peaked portico would shelter visiting VIPs as they arrived from the searing desert sun.
Here's the United Kingdom's Prince Phillip (R.I.P.) and Queen Elizabeth II standing under that portico with the hosts in early 1983. Walter told her she was about to "see how ordinary Americans live."
While the interior is off limits due to Covid, we were able to peek in the windows.
This room is so me! I love the sunflowers. Leonore had d├ęcor for the various seasons. I was happy to see spring exemplified.

Birds, alive and in statuary, are showcased here. There are even birding tours offered several days a week.

It wasn't all politics, however. Entertainment icons came to sing and play. Neighbor Frank Sinatra was married to Barbara Marx at Sunnylands in July 1976. Bob and Dolores Hope came a total of 50 times between 1975 and 2005. Actors Kirk Douglas and Gregory Peck, singers Beverly Sills and Michael Feinstein, comedian George Burns, conductor Zubin Mehta, designer Oscar de la Renta, and artist Helen Frankenthaler all visited the estate and probably danced poolside.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan came to Sunnylands annually for nearly two decades to celebrate New Year's Eve with their old friends. The annual parties, New York socialite Brooke Astor proclaimed, “were the greatest invitation one could ever have.”
The estate still employs a fair number of horticulturists to maintain the gardens that Leonore favored, including the rose garden, which still grows varieties cultivated by the Annenbergs and named for their powerful female friends.

The most famous golfers in the world played the private course, including every president from Eisenhower to Obama.

To think of all who played on this hole before me... WOW!
Tourists were told not to miss the replica of the bench that President Barack Obama gave President Xi Jinping of China when the two met at Sunnylands in 2013 for what has been termed a “shirtsleeve summit.”

While I have nothing good to say about President Xi (currently), Steve and I found our own reason not to miss the bench!
After touring Sunnylands and doing some research, I am so happy to have met the Annebergs. I found this quote to be just another amazing attribute of this amazing couple. “We know about their philanthropy, but what has amazed me was the deep friendships they developed with people and how generous they were with their friends — generous and thoughtful,” Rowe says, referring to the abundance of letters and cards the Annenbergs sent.

We are thoroughly LOVING all the uniqueness Palm Springs, and life in general, has to offer. 

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