Donald Wexler Home Honored - Page 2

Late architect's original residence in Palm Springs headed for double historic status
Fridays on the Homefront
Marilynn and Donald Wexler in front of their new home, circa 1955.

Wexler, who originally had apprenticed for two years with architect Richard Neutra after college graduation in 1950, then joined the office of architect William Cody, an influential architect of Palm Springs' desert modern style. It was there that Wexler met Richard Harrison, his future partner, who had been working as a draftsman.

In 1953, Wexler opened his own office and married Marilynn Dawn Maidman. The couple rented an apartment in the Warm Sands area of Palm Springs, but after Marilynn became pregnant, Wexler bought a vacant land parcel, which he designed and finished by the time their first son was born.

"Wexler designed the home knowing that more than likely it would expand over time," Keylon points out. "And the post-and-beam architecture allowed for that, since none of the interior beams were load-bearing."

Fridays on the Homefront
Rear of the former Wexler residence today. Photo: Steven Keylon

According to Wexler's son Gary, his father liked to use new products, and "that's why he got interested in steel," Gary stated in the nomination. Also, in the Wexler residence, "all the walls were clad in [what was then] a brand-new material called Texture One-Eleven, now known as T1-11." Made from Douglas fir, T1-11's distinct spacing and lines resulted in a sleek, modern look.

One of the home's owners who followed Wexler began restoring and rehabilitating the house in 2008. "What's interesting and important about this," says Keylon, "is that they brought in Lance O'Donnell, who had apprenticed with Wexler and knew Wexler's style well, a fine architect himself. He and Wexler then collaborated on the restoration of the house."

Fridays on the Homefront
Living room area of the former Wexler residence today. Photo: Steven Keylon

For that project, Wexler, who passed away in 2015, was able to unify everything, hide ductwork underground, and pour terrazzo floors throughout. He hired Tony Dalu to design the interior and exterior landscape, with a plan that respected the desert and consisted of decomposed granite, which at the time was an unusual material choice.

"Changes for the renewal project were overseen by Wexler, so it shows his hand and represents his work," Keylon adds. "It's amazing to have the same architect come back 50 years later and collaborate on such a project." The Palm Springs City Council's final vote on the Wexler residence's Class 1 nomination is expected in the next few months.

Fridays on the Homefront
The floor plan as designed, 1954. Note the entry opens onto a large den, with adjacent living room.