November 05, 2022

Photo Essay: Palm Springs' House of Tomorrow, Exorcised of Its Elvis 'Sideshow'

Although Elvis did have a house in Beverly Hills, Palm Springs seems like it was more like the West Coast home-away-from-Memphis of our dearly-departed King of Rock and Roll.

And that's where there's the modernist home leased for him by Colonel Tom Parker for a year starting in 1966—built in 1960 as "The House of Tomorrow" by architect William Krisel.

For decades, it operated as a tourist attraction, the "Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway"—which glorified the time that Elvis and his new bride Priscilla spent there when they were first married, after eloping in Vegas to escape paparazzi in 1967. 

They spent six months as newlyweds there, in the Ladera Circle neighborhood of Palm Springs—and the house's owners tried to leave things just as they were back then. 

Architecturally, that meant preserving the pebbled grotto...

...the "batwing" roofline...

...and the concentric circles (a.k.a. "lilypads") that lead up to the front door (and reflect the overall floorplan of the home). 
But the hideaway has undergone a massive renovation to return it back to its pre-Elvis grandeur and rebrand it as the "House of Tomorrow," with new black trim on the fa├žade...

...a restained door... wall-to-wall carpeting... 

...reupholstered cushions...

...a refinished cone fireplace suspended from the ceiling... furniture...

...and far fewer photos of Elvis hung on the repainted walls. 

It's still stunning, even if it's a lot more white than it was before.  
The kitchen has been nearly entirely redone as well...

...with new cabinets and backsplash tile...

...and a new marbled top to the circular range in the center of the room. 

It's nice to see that the stone wall in the family room remains exposed... does the stone wall along the staircase leading up to the second floor. 

The circular tub in the master bath upstairs has been completely redone (as have the surrounding closet doors)...

...and in the master bedroom, the replica of the "Elvis bed" (which you used to be able to lie down upon) has been replaced with something more contemporary.
The estate's original owners and residents, developer Robert Alexander and his wife Helene, died in a plane crash in 1965. Their daughter Jill, then orphaned, left Palm Springs to live with her aunt in LA.

The Alexander Construction Company—which was responsible for nearly all of the homes designed by modernist architects in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs—ceased operations after the death of its principles.
It was Jill's great uncle, Leonard Alexander, who leased the home to Colonel Parker on behalf of Elvis and Priscilla.

The current owners, who renovated the home in 2020 and helped get it listed as a local landmark, wanted to return it to how the Alexanders would've wanted it—after years of it being operated as a "sideshow."

It's now colloquially known as "The Alexander Estate."

But I kind of liked the sideshow. I can't help but to still call it the "Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway." As ridiculous as that was.

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