history of canyon estates view of homes against mountains
The Canyon Estates homes sit at the bottom of a dramatic mountain range. Courtesy of Canyon Estates.

Canyon Estates is known for its beautifully designed homes and its idyllic resort living— but what’s the story behind it all? Take a look with us as we explore the rich and interesting history of Canyon Estates.

Canyon Estates’ story begins in the late 1960s. Developer Roy Fey dreamt of creating a picturesque resort community nestled away in Palm Springs, but with a twist— instead of condos, residents would live in single story homes.

history of canyon estates advertisement from 1969
A depiction of one of the homes from a 1969 ad. Courtesy ofCanyon Estates.

So Fey, along with his partners the Wallace Moir Group and the Great-West Life Assurance Company of Canada, purchased 79 acres of desert next to the Indian Canyons golf course. Next up— they had to pick an architect.

The team ended up going with LA-based Charles Du Bois, who had owned an architecture firm in Hollywood since 1938. Du Bois was from Rochester, New York, and had been educated at MIT and UCLA. He had designed many Mid Century homes in Southern California, including the Swiss Miss Homes in Vista Las Palmas. Du Bois’s homes typically contained double entry doors, stone cladding and post-and-beam construction.

Want to See Canyon Estates For Yourself? Get Tickets to our Modernism Week Fall Preview 2019 event at Canyon Estates titled: Smart Remodeling + How to Be a Good Modernist Neighbor

history of canyon estates clubhouse
The Canyon Estates Clubhouse is a gathering place for homeowners and features a long, low roof. It’s the perfect contrast against the jagged mountains. Courtesy of Canyon Estates.

Du Bois was tasked with designing 254 single-story, single-family homes, a central clubhouse, and 11 pools. Canyon Estates would also have a 9 hole golf course, which would be designed by Frank Hughes.

Fey wanted single-family homes so that the property didn’t feel crowded—“My idea is that people want space around them. Room to move around. Where other builders would put four homes to a designated area, I’d build three,” said Fey.

history of canyon estates blueprint
One of the floor plans for Canyon Estates. It could either be built as a standalone residence, or share a wall with another home. Courtesy ofCanyon Estates.

Du Bois would go on to design these homes with a few key features– long, low-lying roofs, Palo Verde stone accents and expansive glass windows.

When the construction began in the early 70’s, home prices started at $40,000. But by the time the construction of Canyon Estates finished in 1977, home prices started at $145,000. People loved Du Bois’s designs and Fey’s single-family homes-with-condo-amenities concept.

history of canyon estates backyard patio with firepit
These homes don’t just look good in the daytime— they’re beautiful in the evening too. Courtesy of Canyon Estates.

Artists like Helen Rose and Charles LeMaire bought homes in Canyon Estates, along with other celebrities like songwriters Mack David and Sol Lake.

Even today, Canyon Estates is still a popular locale— it’s been featured in many Modernism Week tours and its homes are continually featured in architecture magazines worldwide.

history of canyon estates living room with modern decor
The interior of one of the homes features sleek, modern decor. It’s the perfect fit! Courtesy of Canyon Estates.

You’re in luck– there’s a second chance to visit Canyon Estates for yourself and tour a collection of amazing homes in the community when the Canyon Estates tour tickets go for sale as part of Modernism Week Spring 2020! Check here for updates and details.

Feel confident about the history of the Canyon Estates? Learn more about the style of Canyon Estates (Desert Modernism) here!

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