Palm Springs, CA

City all shook up over unpermitted 'Elvis House' work

The Palm Springs Post
Robert Alexander outside The House of Tomorrow in 1962.Look Magazine

It’s now or never for preservation of a Palm Springs home that has been the subject of a burning love for many admirers.

The home, currently a Class 3 historic property located at 1350 Ladera Circle, was dubbed The House of Tomorrow when it was constructed in 1960 by architect William Krisel for real estate developer Robert Alexander and his family. It is best known as the ‘Elvis House’ due to the fact singer Elvis Presley and his new bride, Priscilla, stayed at the residence during their 1967 honeymoon.
Elvis and Priscilla Presley outside The House of Tomorrow in Palm Springs in 1967.Look Magazine

Work being done at the home is what has suspicious minds in the city all shook up. In May, the city’s Historic Site Preservation Board unanimously denied permission for exterior alterations to the property after it was discovered that some demolition had already started. It ordered a 120-day stay of any work at the home in order to consider designating the property a Class 1 historic property. That designation would offer extra scrutiny for any future alterations as well as additional protections for the property.

The board meets today at 2 PM to consider a 60-day extension of the stay in order to allow for a public hearing on the elevated designation before the Palm Springs City Council, which has been on recess during the month of August.
Demolition of the terrazzo pool deck and exterior steps at The House of Tomorrow caught the attention of the city.City of Palm Springs

The home has changed hands a dozen times since it was first constructed. It was most recently sold for $2.6 million in December 2020 to architect Paul Armitstead of Seattle. At the May Preservation Board meeting, Armitstead expressed regret for moving forward on the work without the necessary permits and offered to pay for the historic report needed as part of the consideration of Class 1 status.

That report, prepared by a Sherman Oaks historic preservation consultant and contained in public documents available here, outlines numerous reasons why the property deserves Class 1 designation. While interesting and the subject of marketing materials for tours of the home, the association with Presley is not being considered. Instead, the report states the architectural significance of the house is what matters most.

An earlier report, completed in 2003, called the home “an outstanding example of innovative residential buildings” and recommended it be considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Because of the building’s visual quality, history, intact setting, and high integrity, the building represents the overall residential development of this neighborhood in the 1960s and 1970s and contributes to the historic identity of Palm Springs as an enclave for progressive architecture,” that reported stated. “The structure represents the overall development of residential architecture during the post-war era and contributes to the mid-century modernist character so strongly identified with Palm Springs.”

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