Designed by Albert Frey and built by developers Ray Ryan and Trav Rogers in 1959, the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club served as clubhouse with a marina at the Northeastern shore of the Salton Sea. Round windows reminiscent of nautical portholes are similar to what Frey used in his own Palm Springs home, Frey House I.

vintage postcard of the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club
By Source, Fair use,

“In no other place in the world can you enjoy the unique advantages of North Shore Beach & Yacht Club. Sailing and waterskiing in the midst of the desert in the playground of America, the North Shore of Salton Sea,” boasts the original promotional video.

screen shot of an original promotional video of the North Shore Beach & Yacht club
Tour the North Shore Beach & Yacht club in this 1960s promotional video!

In its heyday, the Salton Sea was a bustling desert getaway filled with sailing, fishing and picnics. The clubhouse was a spot for recreation and socializing, with a cocktail lounge where you could watch the boats float by in the marina. According to the video, there was also a Commodore Room for meetings and parties as well as the Admiral’s Tea Room for club members and their guests. The North Shore Motel nearby provided views and a place to stay for travelers to the area. A residential development was planned but never realized.

North Shore Beach & Yacht club by albert frey
Albert Frey’s North Shore Beach and Yacht Club was built in 1959 and restored in 2010. Photo by Farragutful – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Salton Sea

The current iteration of the Salton Sea was formed in the early 1900s when a levee was breached that was meant to divert Colorado River waters. These flooding waters filled a basin which was dry at the time. The sea itself has existed in many different forms over the years, the cycling dependent on changing Colorado River fluxes.

a salton sea ashtray.
Feeling nostalgic? This 1960s ashtray reproduction hearkens back to the heyday of Salton Sea tourism. Available from the Palm Springs Modern Committee.

Though the sea was a man-made accident, it turned out to be a hub for bird and fish wildlife. Tourism boomed there in the midcentury and the Salton Sea State Park—located 1 mile east of the Beach & Yacht Club—opened in 1955.

the vista of the salton sea where the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club is located
The Salton Sea was booming with wildlife and tourism during the midcentury. Today, the sea is shrinking and becoming increasingly saline as seen in this recent image. Photo by Lindsay Jarvis.

Yacht Club Estate

Flooding in the early 80s from agricultural wastewater caused damage to the marina, causing the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club to close. A grant to rehabilitate the property allowed for a restoration of Frey’s design and the club reopened in 2010 as a community center. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 along with several other Frey designs in Palm Springs. Today, the sea level is dropping as it evaporates and dries. The fate of the Salton Sea is sadly uncertain, but Frey’s nautical clubhouse thankfully remains intact.

To learn more about the Salton Sea and its current challenges, visit saltonsea.ca.gov.

Looking for more road trip ideas? Check out this post about places to visit in Rancho Mirage, Palm Spring’s next door neighbor !

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