Master Architect, Desert Gem - Page 2

Restored Albert Frey a modern exception in one of Palm Springs' oldest neighborhoods
Fridays on the Homefront
The home’s grilles, like the ones here, are more than decorative, filtering sunlight into the home.

The Haymond House is not on the National Register of Historic Places, but in 2017 it was designated a Class 1 historic site by the city. Its nomination papers cite it as “an outstanding example of custom residential design…within the context of mid-century desert modernism.” It also has Mills Act status for a property tax savings Menrad pegged at 60 to 70 percent.

“The National Register is the one that’s more prestigious, but it doesn’t do nearly as much to preserve the house as the local Class 1,” said Menrad, calling this house as historic as any he’s ever represented. He identified his favorite aspects of the house as the series of 170-plus cast aluminum grilles decorating the walls, and a spacious, covered lanai out back.

The grilles were designed by John deKoven Hill, fresh off of tutelage at Taliesen under Frank Lloyd Wright and a decade as architecture editor of House Beautiful. They are more than decorative, filtering sunlight into the home. The lanai includes a built-in barbecue and, in desert climes, serves as additional living space.

Fridays on the Homefront

“It’s basically an outdoor living room,” the realtor observed enthusiastically. “It’s got a gorgeous view of the Frey-designed [swimming] pool and the mountains behind it. That’s my favorite part.”

Other features include oversized dual front doors, nine-foot ceilings, travertine and terrazzo flooring, and niches built into the walls.

“There hasn’t been any significant work done,” Menrad said, describing its faithful preservation aside from some sliding glass doors that were replaced and the travertine flooring added.

Fridays on the Homefront

“Which is why it got that [Class 1] designation—you can’t really do that,” he said of making major renovations to an historical home in Palm Springs. The project was profiled in a 2017 edition of Palm Springs Life. 

Summing up his historical listing in Old Las Palmas, the realtor deadpanned, “It’s better than your average tract home...It’s rare because it’s one of our master architects of that era.”