Preservation Sessions

Join us for future sessions! We aim to have a mix of panel discussions, one-on-one discussions, and informative and entertaining interviews and presentations – all around the topic of architectural history and preservation in Rancho Mirage.

Upcoming Sessions

Invites will be sent 3 weeks before.

“Architect E. STEWART WILLIAMS, FAIA and his Rancho Mirage legacy”
Presentation by Sidney Williams

Tuesday, February 1st at 5pm PST

E. Stewart Williams, FAIA was a prolific Palm Springs architect whose distinctive modernist buildings significantly shaped the Coachella Valley’s architectural landscape and legacy.

In 1946 Stewart Williams arrived in Palm Springs to join his father, Harry, and his brother Roger in architectural practice. One of his first projects was designing a house for Frank Sinatra called ‘Twin Palms.’ Subsequently, he designed additional homes in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. Sidney Williams, former curator of architecture and design at the Palm Springs Art Museum and daughter-in-law of Stewart Williams, will discuss Stew’s Rancho Mirage projects. Primarily focusing on the Kenaston House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and locally on Rancho Mirage’s list of historic properties. It is a story of a house that retains its character and authenticity as each successive owner takes on a respectful stewardship of the home.

Join us live via Zoom for the opportunity to ask Sidney Williams your own questions about this iconic architect and his work in Rancho Mirage and elsewhere.


Previous Sessions

Sunnylands: Hidden Treasures and Archival Insights

‘Behind the scenes’ stories from Sunnylands’ director Janice Lyle and her team. Tasked with sorting through the Annenbergs’ possessions and archives with a deadline to opening day, they encountered treasures and surprises.

Architectural History of Thunderbird Country Club

Thunderbird Country Club’s architectural history, from 1951 through to the 1960s. Presented by local historian, Melissa Riche, the talk examines how midcentury architectural styles evolved at the club.

Tamarisk Country Club: Mid-Century History and Architecture

Acclaimed author Adele Cygelman speaks on: Arthur Elrod: Desert Modern Design 

From the moment that Arthur Elrod opened his design and furnishings studio on Palm Canyon Drive in 1954, he became the most influential interior designer in the desert.

Join us with author Adele Cygelman as she discusses Arthur Elrod’s innovative interiors, which included a wide range of projects in Rancho Mirage, from Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s home at Thunderbird Country Club to condos at Tamarisk West to estates in Thunderbird Heights.

History Brunch with Melissa Riche ‘Rancho Mirage – how it grew from a 1930s subdivision’

Discover where and how ‘Rancho Mirage’ came to be during this deep dive into the history of the city. Before there were country clubs, there was empty desert, and a small subdivision that exists to this day, originally called ‘Rancho Mirage’ it became what we know today as Magnesia Falls Cove.

Join writer and Preservation Mirage founder Melissa Riche for the history of early Rancho Mirage, with images and information that will give you insights into how a group of homes for those who wanted a true desert escape grew into a community, then a city, from the 1930s to the city’s incorporation in 1973.

‘Sunday Brunch with Catherine Cody’

Catherine Cody, whose long-awaited book on the work of her father William F. Cody was just published, will be in conversation with Preservation Mirage’s Melissa Riche.

Entitled ‘Master of the Mid-Century,’ Catherine Cody co-authored this stunning book with Jo Lauria and Don Choi. As many of you know, Cody’s work in Rancho Mirage was prolific and acclaimed. We’re fortunate that many examples of his work are still standing, although several have been lost to remodeling and demolition since the 1980s. This session gives fascinating insight into some of the homes we’ve lost as well as some of Catherine Cody’s favorites from her father’s exceptional legacy, with photos and illustrations as well as conversation.

Steven Price: “Johnny Dawson: Pioneer of Fairway Living”

A session on the far-reaching influence of the lifelong and highly successful amateur golfer, real estate and golf course developer. Known in Rancho Mirage for Thunderbird Country Club, Dawson didn’t stop there. His entrepreneurial spirit and delight in the game of golf proved to be the ideal recipe to almost single-handedly turn the Palm Springs area into the ‘Winter Golf Capital of the World’ from the 1950s – 1970s.

Steven Price will focus on what made Johnny Dawson such a significant influence, from Thunderbird, to Eldorado, Seven Lakes, Marrakesh and more. Steven is a well-known historian, author of ‘Trousdale Estates,’ and a history of Marrakesh Country Club – produced for the club. He is currently working on a book about the work of John Elgin Woolf. Price is an eloquent speaker and expert on all things midcentury, now based in the desert.

Courtney Newman presents ‘Showbiz Comes to the Desert’.

A holiday season special of Preservation Sessions, featuring local luminary, historian, founder of PS Modcom, owner of ‘Modernway’ and preservationist extraordinaire: Courtney Newman. 

Like many of us, Courtney is fascinated by the celebrities who made Rancho Mirage and the Palm Springs area their resorts of choice in the 1950s and 60s, so he knows more than most about what went on. He will present stories and fables from the golden age of the desert when some of Hollywood’s most talented and often funniest stars decided to bring their larger-than-life personalities to the desert.