morse house

morse house

What?
A modernist midcentury house renowned for parties

Where?
Palm Springs, California

When?
1960

Who?
Architect: Palmer and Krisel

1961 Revisions: Hal Levitt

 

 

morse house
morse house

 

 

The Morse House is suspected to be a design by American architect William Krisel (famous for developing popular Alexander tract houses in Palm Springs) and was bought by Teddy and Claire Morse in 1960. The following year, the Morses commissioned renowned Los Angeles architect Harold “Hal” Levitt to expand the home turning it into a Hollywood-style entertainment oasis in the Vista Las Palmas neighbourhood.

Its signature sunken living room, swim-up bar and swimming pool with island seating make it the ultimate party house. Natural rock walls and terrazzo flow seamlessly between indoors and out and the dynamism created by the disappearing glass walls and shifting angles is spectacular. We also love the white breeze block wall that screens a bedroom courtyard if we remember correctly.

The home is decorated with vintage furniture including an oval dining table by Eero Saarinen, chairs by Richard Schultz, Eames and Warren Platner and art by Alexander Girard.

It was bought by its current owners in 2013, Joan and Gary Gand, avid collectors of midcentury design and founders of the ‘Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond’ preservation group which provides tours, lectures and educational events about midcentury modern architecture and design. This husband and wife duo are also talented musicians and formed The Gand Band with a few others and are known for their ‘concerts with a cause’. 

morse house
morse house

Original pictures taken on a private tour with the owners Joan and Gary in January 2017. Occasional tours of the Class One Historic Site are run via the Palm Springs Modern Committee so check their website for details.

morse house
morse house

While you’re in the area, we recommend a pilgrimage to Richard Neutra’s nearby Kauffmann House from 1947. The house was commissioned by the same man who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Though you won’t be able to get inside this private home (unless you have a cool $25 million dollars as it has just gone on the market (20/10/2020) according to the Los Angeles Times) it’s worth stopping by to steal a glimpse of the exterior. This sleek steel, stone and glass marvel was made famous by Slim Aarons’ photo entitled ‘Poolside Gossip’.

 

 

morse house
morse house

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