NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

On January, 12 of the most important buildings designed by master architect E. Stewart Williams were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  They join 11 buildings on the National Register that were designed by Albert Frey and listed in 2015.  All 23 of these nominations were written by PS ModCom founding president and architectural historian, Peter Moruzzi.  Our next goal for National Register listing is to focus on the architecturally important buildings by Donald Wexler.

TAHQUITZ PLAZA

A sensitive restoration of the formerly threatened 1974- 1977 Tahquitz Plaza was completed by February of this year.  Palm Springs preservation architect,

Susan Secoy Jensen was retained by the new owner(s) to oversee the project in tandem with the guidance of building architect Hugh Kaptur.  Once dangerously close to demolition, the ongoing and joint efforts of PS ModCom and the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation (PSPF) were instrumental in saving this complex once described by Kaptur as his opportunity to “explode outside the (modernist) box so to speak.”

TOWN & COUNTRY CENTER

Last year the Palm Springs City Council designated the Town & Country Center (T&CC) as a Class One Historic Site.  Yet since that time the property has continued to deteriorate such that we are concerned about “demolition by neglect.”

Together PS ModCom and PSPF are encouraging the City to enforce its Vacant Building Ordinance (VBO) because the owner, John Wessman Development Company, has failed to properly maintain the building, especially considering the impact of this year’s rains.

SHELL GAS STATION

William F. Cody’s 1964 service station, the last remaining of 5 architect designed stations in Palm Springs operating as such, was designated a Class One Historic Site in January 2017.  A successful appeal by PS ModCom of the Planning Commission decision to grant a Conditional Use Permit (that would have altered the historic integrity) was an instrumental part of ongoing advocacy which began in May 2015. Coupled with

Coupled with a tireless investigation by the Historic Site Preservation Board and others, this important gas station at 2796 N. Palm Canyon Drive was unanimously approved for designation by the city council.

TRIBAL CLAIM OF JURISDICTION OVER HISTORIC RESOURCES

Recently the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (the Tribe) has claimed broad jurisdiction over historic resources in the City of Palm springs.  Specifically, a 2005 agreement between America’s tribes and the federal government grants giving the Tribe the right to review and comment on nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for properties within tribal land, including fee simple land that was once within tribal boundaries.  This has already delayed the National Register nomination process for an Alexander house in the Twin Palms neighborhood.

More significantly, the Tribe now wishes to review nominations for local designation of properties located outside of tribal land, i.e. within the entire City of Palm Springs.

In March, PS ModCom’s attorney sent a letter to the City detailing why the Tribe’s claims of jurisdiction outside of tribal lands are without basis.  To summarize:

  • For local designation or Mills Act Contracts (property tax deductions), the Tribe has no jurisdiction over fee simple land that was once owned by the Tribe.  As such, the City retains jurisdiction.
  • Only the City has the authority to designate non-reservation resources to a local register.
  • The Tribe does not have the authority to approve projects that may impact historic resources on fee simple non-Indian property.
  • The Tribe does not have any responsibility regarding the Citywide Historic Resources Survey.
  • View our attorney’s letter

© PS MODCOM 2017