Jack Meiselman and Palm Springs’ Development as an MCM Mecca
If someone were to mention Palm Springs to you, it’s likely images of perfectly geometric midcentury homes with banks of angled windows and vividly painted accents would come to mind. Today the city is inexorably linked with 1950s and ‘60s architecture thanks to the work of a small group of architects, developers and builders whose tract homes forever changed the world’s vision of this desert community, people like Jack Meiselman.
Jack, who was once a partner of Bob Alexander of Alexander Construction, worked with his brother Bernie to construct modern tract homes in Palm Springs. The inexpensive properties (going for around $20,000 new) were developed as vacation homes, often featuring a master suite on one side of the home and two guest rooms on the other. A galley-style kitchen was built adjacent to the living room. Walls of glass along the back of the home looked out onto a backyard with pool and out to the surrounding mountains. To help homeowners more comfortably visit their desert getaway year-round, Meiselman homes featured central heating and air conditioning.
The Meiselmans used post-and-beam construction in the development of their properties. The homes were constructed with many hallmarks of the era, including clerestory windows and butterfly roofs, and featured tongue-and-groove ceilings and sculpted concrete block. The homes occupied quarter-acre lots.
Because they were developed at the same time, and feature many stylistic similarities, Meiselman and Alexander homes are sometimes confused. MCM enthusiasts have learned to spot the details that separate the homes constructed by these firms, including layout, rooflines and windows.
While Alexander Construction developed around 2,500 homes in Palm Springs from 1959 to 1960, Meiselman just a few hundred. Today, these homes can fetch upwards of $500,000 and can be found in the Desert Park Estates, Sunrise Park-Central Palm Springs and Victoria Park neighborhoods in Palm Springs.
Are You a Fan of Jack Meiselman?
If you’re a huge fan of the look of Jack Meiselman’s homes, there’s a house in Palm Springs you need to see. And if you’re going to Modernism Week 2017, you can see it up close and personal by joining us on our exclusive house tour Feb. 19 and 20! Tour three successfully renovated homes (one inspired by all the best parts of Meiselman’s designs) and talk with the contractors and homeowners that made it happen!
Tickets are still on sale, but they won’t be for long! Visit the Modernism Week website for details on tickets, available tour times and our renovation seminar.
By Devlin Smith