Lovers of midcentury modern architecture are hoping to “Save the Wave.”
The iconic Palm Desert home with a roof described as a wave or a roller coaster will be auctioned off in February, and the city of Palm Desert is offering up to $50,000 in matching funds to someone willing to buy and restore it.
The city and the Historical Society of Palm Desert call the home at 73697 Santa Rosa Way “an important example of Palm Desert’s midcentury modern architectural heritage.”
City officials are hoping the deteriorated, 1,900-square-foot house, designed by celebrated architect Walter S. White in 1955, will be bought by someone interested in preserving it. That’s the only way a buyer can get the $50,000.
But by law, the city is required to sell the home to the highest bidder. So anyone could buy the house, demolish it and build something else. That’s the fear of those who want to see the home brought back to its original form.
An application to add the home to the National Register of Historic Places is pending.
Meanwhile, anyone interested will be able to tour the home at open houses to be held Feb. 17-18 during Modernism Week, an annual event in the Palm Springs area celebrating midcentury architecture and design.
The auction is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 24 in the auditorium of the University of Riverside Palm Desert campus.
White was known as an experimental architect who built more than 50 structures in the Coachella Valley, mostly in Palm Desert, in the mid-1950’s-early 1960’s. Noted for his original roof designs and corner windows, he also created prefab housing and experimented with solar energy.
Along with the curvy roof winding over concrete block and glass walls, the home on Santa Rosa has an open floor plan, and a bathroom’s projecting glass shower opens to a private garden.
The home was built for Miles C. Bates, described as an “unconventional” artist who “excelled at racing European sports cars and was twice arrested for marijuana possession in the 1950s,” according to historical accounts. He died in 1976.
The city has not hired a real estate agent, and as of early January, no minimum or reserve bid was set for the auction. An appraisal on the city’s website shows a market value of $320,000 to $340,000.
In addition to the open houses during Modernism Week, the city is offering private appointments to see the house beginning Monday, Jan 15. For more information, contact Cora Gaugush at email@example.com.
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