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El Mirador Hotel and Tower, Palm Springs, view 1
Alternative Title
Security Pacific National Bank Photo Collection
Date Created and/or Issued
Circa 1931
Publication Information
Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce
Contributing Institution
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Rights Information
Images available for reproduction and use. Please see the Ordering & Use page at for additional information.
Title supplied by cataloger.
El Mirador, roughly translated as "The Watchtower", had its gala opening on New Year's Eve 1927. The 200-room hotel was built by a cattle rancher-turned-real estate investor named Prescott Thresher Stevens at a cost of $1 million - a staggering sum in that era. Los Angeles architects Walker & Eisen designed the Spanish-Colonial Revival style hotel, which featured 1,500 beds arranged in suites, ballrooms, and corridors, and had lavish guest rooms with hand-carved furniture and sun decks. Its signature trait was a bell tower crowned by a cap of colorful tile in a Moorish mosaic pattern; it also had an imported Italian bronze bell that was later supplemented by electric chimes. El Mirador boasted as having the Coachella Valley's first golf course, tennis courts, and stables. Its Olympic-size pool had three diving boards and lured aquatic stars such as Esther Williams and Johnny Weismuller. This hotel, which served as a second home to the stars, helped establish Palm Springs as a resort. Among the many famous guests were: W. C. Fields, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Al Jolson, George Raft, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Douglas Fairbanks, Ralph Bellamy, Shirley Temple, Albert Einstein, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, etc. During WWII, the desert became training grounds for General George S. Patton's troops as they prepared to invade North Africa. El Mirador was appropriated by the Army in 1942 for $425,000, and it was transformed into Torney General Hospital, primarily catering to Gen. Patton's wounded troops. After serving 10 years as a hospital, investors purchased the property from the Army and attempted the hotel's comback by putting $4 million into its reconstruction. In 1968, actor John Conte and his wife, an Oriental-rug heiress bought the hotel and it became El Mirador Hilton. In 1972, the Contes were forced to sell the property by federal bankruptcy court, and it closed its doors for good. Many years later, Desert Hospital bought the property for $4 million, but on July 26, 1989 a three-alarm fire destroyed the historic building, along with the original 90-foot landmark tower. Luckily, it had been boarded up and unoccupied at the time of the fire, serving only as a warehouse for Desert Hospital. Thanks to the availability of the original plans, the building and tower were accurately reconstructed in May 1991. Today, it is the site of Desert Regional Medical Center, located at 1150 North Indian Canyon Drive.
View 1 of El Mirador Hotel, located at 1150 North Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Photograph shows Aimee Semple McPherson with new husband David Hutton, an actor and musician, outside the landmark hotel. McPherson wears a black dress, tan headwrap, and long, tan fur coat; Sutton wears a dark gray 3-piece suit and tan hat. The main hotel building and landmark tower are visible in the background, with two automobiles parked in front of it.
1 photographic print :b&w ;14 x 11 cm. on sheet 26 x 21 cm.
Photographic prints
Security Pacific National Bank Collection
Palm Springs-Hotels-El Mirador Hotel; N-003-596.1 4x5
McPherson, Aimee Semple,--1890-1944
El Mirador Hotel (Palm Springs, Calif.)
Couples--California--Palm Springs
Clergy--California--Los Angeles
Architecture--California--Palm Springs--Spanish influences
Lost architecture--California--Palm Springs
Resorts--California--Palm Springs
Hotels--California--Palm Springs
Stevens, Prescott Thresher
Palm Springs (Calif.)
Walker & Eisen

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