Chart House Pre-Fire
Chart House Fire

CHART HOUSE, RANCHO MIRAGE
(ARSON 2012, DEMOLISHED 2013)

On February 7, 2013 the Rancho Mirage City Council denied the Palm Springs Modern Committee’s appeal of the City’s order to demolish the Chart House restaurant, which had been damaged by fire in January 2012. Owner John Wessman subsequently bulldozed the Chart House taking away one of the Valley’s most iconic architectural buildings. This, despite the fact that the independent historic consultant hired by the City found the designated landmark to retain its historic significance even after the fire.

Erected in 1978, the Chart House was a one-of-a-kind sculptural building designed by a master of organic modern architecture, Kendrick Bangs Kellogg.

Through the course of 2012, PS ModCom’s attorney Amy Minteer provided the City with a series of detailed letters outlining our position and citing relevant case law.We argued that for the Chart House to be demolished, California law requires the construction of a new building replicating the original design, incorporating salvaged architectural materials. The City Attorney flatly rejected this argument, persuading the Council to approve demolition instead.

Supporting our position was the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation and many members of the community who testified or wrote on behalf of the Chart House.

Unfortunately, it wass our attorney’s opinion that due to the current condition of the building and various interpretations of relevant case law, pursuing litigation would be problematic at best. After careful deliberation the Palm Springs Modern Committee’s board could not justify the tremendous time and expense that would be required to fight this decision when our chance of prevailing before a judge would be relatively poor.

We believe that we can honestly say that the preservation community fought the good fight and lost.

 

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