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Desert Inn Hotel, Palm Springs
Alternative Title
Los Angeles Photographers Photo Collection;
Schultheis, Herman
Made accessible through a grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation
Date Created and/or Issued
Circa 1938
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.; Herman J. Schultheis was born in Aachen, Germany in 1900, and immigrated to the United States in the mid-1920s after obtaining a Ph.D. in mechanical and electrical engineering. He married Ethel Wisloh in 1936, and the pair moved to Los Angeles the following year. He worked in the film industry from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, most notably on the animated features "Fantasia" and "Pinocchio." His detailed notebook, documenting the special effects for "Fantasia," is the subject of a 14-minute short-subject included on the film's DVD. In 1949, he started employment with Librascope as a patent engineer. Schultheis was an avid amateur photographer who traveled the world with his cameras. It was on one of these photographic exhibitions in 1955 that he disappeared in the jungles of Guatemala. His remains were discovered 18 months later. The digitized portion of this collection represents the images Schultheis took of Los Angeles and its surrounding communities after he relocated to the area in 1937.
The Desert Inn was established in 1909 by village pioneers Dr. Harry Lee Coffman (1867-1935) and Nellie Norton Coffman (1867-1950), along with their two sons George Roberson, Jr. (Nellie's son from a previous marriage) and Owen Earl Coffman. The Desert Inn started as a sanitarium in the tiny, unincorporated town called Palm Springs, and was originally a place for those afflicted with tuberculosis. In 1914 Nellie decided a change was needed and she converted the business into a hotel. Dr. Harry was in disagreement and not at all happy with this decision, and he and Nellie eventually divorced. The good doctor soon left Palm Springs and practiced medicine in Coachella Valley, and later in San Diego County, where he passed away in 1935. During this time, the Desert Inn was becoming a world-renowned resort hotel catering to the very wealthy, which included well-known millionaires such as the Vanderbilt and Hearst families. Nellie and her sons continually added to the hotel property, and by 1927 a modern hotel had replaced the earlier structures, becoming a white-walled, Indian-Spanish inspired landmark complete with red-tiled roof and wide verandas of terra cotta, the gardens boasting of the best of desert flora. The Inn was run by Nellie and her sons for decades, and Nellie's ability, determination, and charm extended the resort's reputation which brought people from all over the world to this fine establishment. Nellie's love and charitable works for the community earned her the title of "Mother Coffman". The famed Desert Inn closed its doors in 1955 after Nellie's death, and was finally razed in 1967, making way for the Desert Fashion Shopping Plaza.
View of Palm Springs' Dessert Inn resort, catering to the winter tourist trade. Photograph shows a two-story building on the right, as well as another structure which is barely visible on the left.
1 photographic print :b&w ;11 x 15 cm.
Photographic prints
Herman J Schultheis Collection; Los Angeles Photographers Collection;
N-007-788 8x10
Desert Inn (Palm Springs, Calif.)
Hotels--California--Palm Springs
Resorts--California--Palm Springs
Driveways--California--Palm Springs
Palms--California--Palm Springs
Automobiles--California--Palm Springs
Dwellings--California--Palm Springs
Mountains--California, Southern
Architecture--California--Palm Springs--Spanish influences
Lost architecture--California--Palm Springs
Palm Springs (Calif.)
San Jacinto Mountains (Calif.)
Schultheis Collection photographs
Coffman, Nellie Norton
Coffman, Harry Lee

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