Merchell, an architectural purist, has his qualms about one change Sanders made to the Sinatra house, replacing the rustic board-and-batten siding with stucco. "But he saved the house. The house would have been bulldozed if he hadn't bought it."
Sanders defends his stucco siding. "I talked about it with Stew when I did it, and Stew loved it. He said he'd made a mistake with the wood siding, that it didn't work in the desert."
The home has lost its original furnishings, as Ron Oliver, a movie director who lives in a Palm Springs Alexander home, can attest. A few years ago he got an excited call from a friend who was in a local consignment shop staring at a compact rattan bar plus three stools that came from the Sinatra house. Whose lovely backsides must have graced those fortunate stools?
"You have to get back here and buy it," his friend successfully urged. What did the bar cost, Ron? "$600. Nothing."
Despite this fire sale, Sinatra is far from forgotten in Palm Springs. Oliver's is not the only mid-century modern house, or restaurant, with Sinatra's 'Swing Easy' album in regular rotation on the sound system.
Twin Palms, again a star, hosted the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation's 'retro martini party' during Modernism Week earlier this year. "Where would the classic martini party be?" asked Barbara Marshall, a local preservationist. "Where else but the Frank Sinatra house?"
Photos: Joseph S. Pickett III, Tom Brewster Photography, Dave Weinstein; and courtesy sinatrahouse.com, Capitol Records, Inc.
• Twin Palms can be spotted from 1148 Alejo Road or 1145 E. Via Colusa, Palm Springs. For additional information, including rentals, visit sinatrahouse.com.