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Two men in bright jackets stand next to a cactus outside a white breeze block wall.
The Midcentury Modern home of Brandon McBurney, left, was reimagined by Josh Agle, the artist popularly known as Shag, as a life-size Shag painting for Modernism Week in Palm Springs.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

12 don’t-miss home tours for Midcentury Modern fans at Palm Springs’ Modernism Week

When you think of Modernism Week in Palm Springs, chances are you think of shopping for Midcentury Modern furniture, poolside parties and double-decker bus tours highlighting iconic tract homes with soaring butterfly roofs.

But the house tours are the most exciting draw at this annual event, from the newly renovated Alexander Estate, known as the House of Tomorrow, where Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned in 1967, to the 1958 Palmer & Krisel tract home that Seal Beach artist Shag has transformed into a living, breathing work of art.

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Many of the home tours sell out quickly. After all, who wouldn’t want to tour Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate in the Movie Colony neighborhood, which is now a luxury rental with rates of more than $4,500 a night?

There’s more to Modernism Week than just Sinatra’s pad. Here are 12 home tours that, at press time, have ticket availability. (Note: Given the historic nature of the homes, most are not ADA-accessible, and in some cases, children are not allowed.)

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A futuristic house
(Modernism Week)

The House of Tomorrow (a.k.a. Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway) home tour

Riverside Modernism Week
Originally designed by Modernist architect William Krisel as a custom family home for Robert and Helene Alexander of the famed Alexander Construction Co., the futuristic House of Tomorrow is best known as the site where Elvis and Priscilla Presley famously honeymooned in 1967. The home, which sold for $5.6 million and was recently remodeled, was built in 1960 and features four circular “pod” wings, a sunken living room with a beaker-shaped fireplace hood and floating hearth, stone walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. Note: The house is not ADA-accessible.

Dates with ticket availability: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 15-25

Ticket: $55
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A compound made from concrete, redwood, glass and steel with desert plants around it.
(Modernism Week)

The Lautner Compound Tour

Riverside Modernism Week
John Lautner fans will want to drive to Desert Hot Springs for this once-a-year opportunity to tour Tracy Beckmann and Ryan Trowbridge’s award-winning Lautner Compound, which includes four simple concrete, redwood, glass and steel units designed by innovative architect Lautner, who studied as an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright. Each unit in the 1947 fourplex, formerly known as the Hotel Lautner, has slanted roofs and expansive windows overlooking a cactus garden. The tour includes an open-air event space, a 1957 California Bungalow and the newly acquired clubhouse, which is available for events.

Dates with ticket availability: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 16 and 17; noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 18; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 23-24.

Ticket: $60. (The owners will also host a twilight wine reception at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 16 and 17. Tickets are $100.)
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A single-story residence of glass and corrugated metal against a desert mountain.
(Modernism Week)

Frey House ll Tour + Museum Day Passes

Riverside Modernism Week
In a breathtaking introduction to Palm Springs architect Albert Frey, the Palm Springs Art Museum offers self-guided tours of Frey House ll, Frey’s residence perched atop a hillside at the west end of Tahquitz Canyon Way.

Like renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Frey was fascinated by the interplay between nature and architecture and the allure of the desert. He incorporated the desert terrain, including a large boulder that juts in through the living room and bedroom glass walls, into his 800-square-foot home, which features a corrugated metal roof, simple concrete slab floors and glass windows overlooking the desert.

After the tour, guests can visit the exhibition “Albert Frey: Inventive Modernist” at the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center (300 S. Palm Canyon Drive) through June 3.

A shuttle van will transport ticket holders from Palm Springs Art Museum’s Buddy Rogers Box Office to the house for the tour.

Dates with ticket availability: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 18-20 and 22-25

Ticket: $75. (A twilight tour and champagne reception for a limited number of guests at Frey House II are available at 4:30 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $125.)
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A white low-slung home with a pool in Palm Springs.
(Modernism Week)

Sunmor Estates Midcentury Home Tour

Riverside Modernism Week
This walking and driving tour will feature the interiors and landscapes of six homes in Sunmor Estates, a special showcase of Modernist homes designed by noted midcentury architects William Krisel and Donald Wexler and builders Smith & Rapport. Once the site of the former Palm Springs Airport and Army Airfield, the neighborhood features some of the original circular concrete pads (tie-downs) from military planes.

Date: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 19

Ticket: $75. (Note: Check-in opens at 9:15 a.m. and closes at noon.)
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A Midcentury Modern home in Palm Springs.
(Modernism Week)

Twin Palms: It Started Here!

Riverside Modernism Week
Tour Twin Palms, the desert’s first Modernist neighborhood designed by William Krisel and built by the Alexander Construction Co. Krisel’s economic, exuberant designs featured flaring butterfly roofs, wide expanses of glass and clear colors that resonated with California’s rising middle class in the 1950s and ’60s.

The Twin Palms: It Started Here! tour will include three of his restored homes, a bungalow at the historic Ocotillo Lodge, a 1962 home developed by Hollywood executive Fred Stein and a condo from the 1970s by Palm Springs architect Laszlo Sandor.

Date: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 19

Ticket: $90
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A low-slung house with a pink door next to a stand of tall palm trees
(Modernism Week)

'That Pink Door House': Villa Sierra

Riverside Modernism Week
Step inside the Instagram famous #pinkdoorhouse in the Indian Canyons neighborhood where Hollywood set designer-turned-architect James McNaughton created his colorful spin on Midcentury Modern Hollywood Regency design. The 5,300-square-foot home features an impressive art collection and colorful furnishings, including a Byzantine blue leather sofa, canary yellow bistro table, pistachio green cabinets in the gourmet kitchen and a powder-blue pool table.

Date with ticket availability: Noon to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 21

Ticket: $40
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A white Midcentury home with a blue door.
(Modernism Week)

Indian Canyons Resort Modernism Home Tour

Riverside Modernism Week
Tour seven custom homes designed by famed midcentury architects Stan Sackley, William Krisel and Charles Du Bois in the Indian Canyons Resort, built along the fairways of Palm Springs’ first 18-hole championship golf course. The neighborhood is known for its distinctive architecture. Docents will be on hand to offer insights about the resort’s iconic 1962 clubhouse, designed by Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison, as well as the history of the resort and community.

Date: 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 24

Ticket: $125
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A Midcentury Modern home and pool in Palm Springs.
(Modernism Week)

El Rancho Vista Estates Modernism Home Tour

Riverside Modernism Week
Step back in time in this tour of eight homes built between 1959 and 1962 by developer Roy Fey in El Rancho Vista Estates, a neighborhood of cul-de-sacs just east of Palm Springs International Airport. Designed by architects Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison, all of the homes on the tour honor the original Midcentury Modern aesthetic, even as their owners, who will be on hand to answer questions, have updated their homes for modern living. As a bonus, vintage cars will be on display at each of the homes.

Date: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 24

Ticket: $85
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A dining room overlooking a window and yard.
(Modernism Week)

Villa Vadera Home Tour

Modernism Week
Join Joan and Gary Gand of the Gand Band as they offer tours of their recently renovated Modernist home, Villa Vadera. Designed by local architect Tom Jakway in 1971, the longtime collectors of midcentury real estate and furnishings took a faux pueblo home in disrepair and restored the interiors and exteriors for the 21st century. The address will be printed on the tickets.

Date: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 22

Ticket: $40
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