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Famous Residents Of Deepwell

Many Famous Residents enjoyed living in Deepwell. In the 1950's many celebrities from Los Angeles lived and played in Palm Springs and several considered Deepwell their retreat from busy work schedules.

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Many Famous Residents enjoyed living in Deepwell. In the 1950's many celebrities from Los Angeles lived and played in Palm Springs and several considered Deepwell their retreat from busy work schedules.

Story Of Deepwell

Introduction

Story Of Deepwell

By: Melba Bennett
Originally Presented in Palm Springs Villager
February, 1952

There is an interesting story behind all the early landmarks of Palm Springs, and one with more up and downs than a roller coaster, is the development of Deep Well Ranch area from an apricot orchard to Palm Springs’ newest residential colony known as Deep Well Ranch Estates. But because the nature of the raconteur is to “go back a piece” we will first touch on one of the early Indian legends and the birth of our first town site to give you the feel and set the mood for our story about Deep Well.
Palm Springs today wrestles with the problems of inadequate parking, snarled traffic, and high valuation of property, yet it was only about seventy years ago that the first white man purchased property in Palm Springs. People have come, and they have stayed, so why does the Chamber of Commerce grind its teeth of promotion? If they only knew the Indian legend about Chino Canyon they could relax and leave it up to Chino.


Story of Deepwell

Chapter Two

The legend goes that in early, early days, an Indian and his wife lived up in Chino Canyon tending their apricot orchard, and when an occasional traveler passed on the old dirt wagon road that meandered close along the hill to avoid the sand drifts, the couple would look up from their work and call “Hello, George,” or whatever the person’s name was. The traveler would look back trying to see who had called and where the voice had come from. But they never could see the Indian and his wife who tended their apricots in the canyon, so it always remained a mystery. But in looking back they would receive and retain a memory of the charm of the desert, and they would soon return, often to make their permanent home. The man and his wife began quarreling with each other so Tahquitz turned them to stone. You can see them today, the two large rocks which guard the entrance to Chino Canyon, and they still call the visitors back to Palm Springs.
This desert was known to the early Indians and Mexicans as “The Hollow of God’s Hand” (La Palma de la Mano de Dios.) The valley is surrounded on the north and east by the San Bernardino, Little San Bernardino, Orocopia, and Chocolate Mountains, and on the west and south by the Peninsula Range (San Jacinto, Santa Rosa, and Vallecito).
An official survey issued in 1855 reports that there was one road from Banning to the Colorado River. It entered Palm Springs from the north at the westerly end of Canebrake Road, wandered south to the Catholic Church and on through to the hot springs. It then passed through section 14, crossed Ramon Road at the trailer court and curved southeast to Araby Point. A well-marked Indian trail paralleled the road on the west, from the pass to a point about where the Desert Inn now stands, crossed Palm Canyon Drive and continued on east to the Indian village and fields (the present site of Deep Well Ranch).

Here the Indians had about 15 acres planted to figs and grapes. The trail then proceeded to Smoke Tree Ranch, continuing east, a branch climbing south to the Indian Village of Rincon, near Andreas Canyon, and on up through Palm Canyon to the Indian villages in the mountains.
The first white men, looking for land to buy, appeared in Palm Springs in 1880. They were W.E. Van Slyke and M. Byrne, both of San Bernardino. They visited an Indian named Pedro Chino who had developed a very small ranch between the hot springs (Agua Caliente) and the mountains. Chino had planted a few fruit trees and irrigated them with the flood waters. He lived in a small, one-room adobe house not far from the present Hotel Oasis. Van Slyke and Byrne offered Chino $150 for his ranch. He took it, turned his ranch over to the white men, and rode off on his horse to the Indian village of Protrero near Banning. The first village real estate transactions had taken place. Then Van Slyke and Byrne proceeded to buy more land, just like you or me.
But they didn’t settle here to live. They were our first speculators. Judge McCallum, our own Pearl McManus’ father, was the first white man to make his home here. In 1884 he built the little adobe which is now part of the Hotel Oasis, and set out an orchard of apricots and oranges, supplemented by a vineyard and an alfalfa patch. The records of San Diego County of 1887 prove that the Judge must have really been sold on the desert, because deed after deed is recorded in his name. It is also a matter of record that on March 24, 1885, Van Slyke and Byrne granted Judge McCallum a fifth interest in the 320 acres constituting the original town site. The first real estate transaction in the village between two white men.


Story Of Deepwell

Chapter Three

The water supply was abundant. Water was brought across the desert from Whitewater River through what was named Whitewater Ditch, a stone-walled canal, fourteen miles long. Having achieved this, the Judge realized that the next important step was to have a place for prospective land purchasers to stay, and he persuaded an eccentric Scotsman, Welwood Murray, who was then living in Banning, to move down to the desert. The Judge leased him a piece of property opposite the Indian hot springs, and by 1886 with the help of Indian labor, Mr. Murray had ready for occupancy a small wood and adobe hotel, the first “Palm Springs Hotel.” Murray then bought a camel, hired one of the young Indian boys, Willie Marcus, dressed him in an Arab costume, and stationed boy and camel at the Seven Palms station to meet all trains, and to hand out pamphlets. Murray even planted palm trees to give Willie and the camel the proper background.
The promoters were riddled with not only a feverish imagination, but with high optimism. For there are records of two syndicates being formed, one by Judge McCallum and the three other men, which was known as Palm Valley Land and Water Company, and another, with a capital of $100,000, known as the Southern California Land and Immigration Company. Also “Palmdale,” (now Smoke Tree Ranch) was developed by three men from Boston, who had been talked into the scheme by Professor Wheaton of Riverside. Not to be outdone by Willie and the camel, they built a narrow gauge railroad connecting Palmdale with the Seven Palms station, twelve miles away. They imported two streetcars from San Francisco, the “Market Street,” and the “Sutter Street,” to carry the passengers, and a wood-burning locomotive to provide the power. And over this railroad arose the first Palm Springs feud: The Palmdale contingent refused the Judge’s offer

of $1500 to continue the line into Palm Springs. Some say that the little train made only one run, but even if it made a few runs, there is no doubt that its journeys were to come to an end shortly.
There were torrential rains all over Southern California in 1893 and even that jokester, the Los Angeles River, overflowed its banks. Three weeks of rains continued, pouring down on the desert, and even distinct waterfalls on the mountains back of Palm Springs were reported. The desert was dotted now with innumerable little fruit orchards, and the village had enjoyed nearly ten years of propriety and development.
But in 1894 began the terrible ten-year drought, and a story with a different mood. The first few years of the drought did not affect the desert pioneers too seriously because they could use water from the canyon streams to water their crops. New men ventured into Palm Springs. Among these men was the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, George Hamilton Fitch, who in 1895 bought some of the fields near the old Indian village southeast of the new McCallum town site. Fitch sent John Gilmore, a correspondent, to manage the ranch but Gilmore was soon replaced by an Englishman, Bert Coons. A small orchard of apricots was set out, and a shed was built where the fruit was to be sorted and packed.
However, as the drought lowered the water level,trouble with the Indians developed. They had a legal right to the first forty inches of water from the Whitewater Ditch and now demanded that the government give them full rights to the water from the canyon streams. They too had orchards. So in 1897 or 1898, the Indians were awarded exclusive rights to the water from the canyons. With the ditch down to a slow trickle, this reduced the whites to hauling water from long distances.


Story Of Deepwell

Chapter Four

Judge McCallum had been doing considerable worrying over his own orchards, and the news of the government’s decision was more than he could stand. The news killed him.
Most of the orchards dried up and many of the early settlers moved away, and the little oasis reverted back to the desert. Murray and his adobe hotel remained. The family of the Judge remained, and sun-worshippers, unconcerned with growing fruit trees, came to relax and regain their health. The spirits of Chino Canyon were still on the job. But it was ten years before anyone of importance was called back. In 1908 Nellie Coffman and her tow sons, George and Earl, made a brief visit to the desert from Idyllwild, where they were living. In 1909 Nellie and her husband, Dr. Coffman, moved their family to Palm Springs and built the tent houses that developed into the world famous Desert Inn. With the arrival of Nellie Coffman the future of Palm Springs was assured. She had no money for fancy promotional approaches, but she had unlimited energy, vision, and courage, and faith.
In the meantime, the Fitch property had been sold to a man by the name of Walker from Santa Ana. Fitch’s apricot trees had burned out during the drought, but the olive and pepper trees were still standing. Walker planted more apricot trees about 1912. He watered the trees with water provided by the water company which was then controlled by Mr. Bunker, Senior. In 1916 an enterprising young man by the name of McKinney, and his wife Rose, moved to the desert, took the little money they had and leased Walker’s land, and made their first payment on the eighty acres to the west of Walker’s property. They set out more apricot trees and a good sized patch of alfalfa.

McKinney also decided that the armed forces could use a large supply of castor oil, and so he planted about twenty acres of castor bean trees. However, about this time, the Palm Valley Water Company changed hands, and P.T. Stevens took over the control. The ditch had been supplemented with a supply of water from Chino Canyon, but Stevens was interested in the development of the north end of the town, and the McKinneys and others in the south end pleaded in vain for water. The McKinneys never cut their first alfalfa, and lost what money they had put in the ranch. The alfalfa and apricots died from lack of water, but not the castor beans. Neither thirty-five hot summers, neglect, nor uprooting and burning have obliterated them. They are still making their fight for survival.
Mr. Henry Pearson, eminent scientist and authority on rubber, purchased the property in 1926. He drilled a well and was amazed to find water so close to the surface. The curiosity of the scientist tempted him and from the hundred foot level where he hit water, he drilled further, and after passing several other water stratum, at 630 feet he called it quits. From this well, the deepest in the Coachella Valley, the property which had been originally cultivated by the Indians, then had been set out as an orchard by Fitch and later by McKinney, and had twice been defeated by the shortage of water, came to be known as the Deep Well Ranch.
Pearson and his daughter, Esther, employed the services of Alvah Hicks and Hans Hansen to build them a board and batten ranch house. It consisted of a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a tiny library. A small, one room guest house was built at the rear, on the patio. Water was heated by the patio. Water was heated by the solar system. The pipes, covered with glass, were still on the roof of the little ranch house when the Bennetts moved into it in 1931.


Story Of Deepwell

Chapter Five

But the ranch proved too isolated for the Pearsons, and in 1928 they moved into the village and sold the ranch to an easterner by the name of Charles Doyle, who converted the old apricot shed and the ranch house into guest quarters, and called the place the Deep Well Guest Ranch. He had accommodations for twenty-two guests, but from the early ledgers, it is apparent that there were always plenty of rooms to spare.
Doyle was operating on a shoestring, and in 1929 he had a chance to sell, and took it. Major and Mrs. Everett, and Mrs. Everett’s brother, Carrol Smith of San Francisco, were the purchasers. Calling in young Paul Williams, the colored architect, they drew plans for charming hacienda type buildings around pleasant patios. The new buildings were completed early in 1930 and the ranch opened for guests. Unfortunately the Major did not live to see his ambition for the finest guest ranch in California realized. He did that same year, and his widow, with the assistance of her brother-in-law, Fred Warner, planned to carry on until a buyer could be found. But the depression made things too difficult, and Mr. Warner persuaded Frank and Melba Bennett of Beverly Hills to operate the ranch in the winter of 1930 and spring of 1931. Frank had been general manager and vice president of the Town House in Los Angeles.

The Bennetts and the Philip Boyds of Palm Springs were both interested in the purchase of the property. During the summer of 1931 it had reverted to its former owner, Henry Pearson, and that fall the Boyds and the Bennetts combined their interests and bought the property together. Frank and Melba assumed the operation for the next eighteen years, and made the ranch their home, while Phil and Dorothy continued to live in the village and later Phil became the first mayor of Palm Springs.
In 1930 the only amusement center in Palm Springs was a pool hall that closed at 9 o’clock. In 1931 Earle Strebe, a bright young bell boy at the Desert Inn, rented a projection machine and on Saturday nights ran a movie in the grammar school auditorium. After the movie, the chairs were pushed back and everyone danced. Earle today owns three handsome motion picture houses in Palm Springs. Horseback riding, swimming, and sunbathing were the only pastimes for visitors, but they loved it, grew healthy on it, and came back for more; brought friends, and bought homes, and stayed.
In 1949, with subdivisions crowding the ranch, the Bennetts found it increasingly difficult to maintain the old informal, simple atmosphere that everyone had loved. So, when Yoland Markson, of Boston, fell in love with the place and offered to lease the ranch and twenty surrounding acres, the Boyds and Bennetts decided that it was the best thing to do. Mr. Markson said he would make the ranch the beauty spot of Palm Springs, and that he has done.


Story Of Deepwell

Chapter Six

This year the balance of the acreage is to be subdivided. Locally popular Bill Grant, former chairman of the Desert Circus, Palm Springs Horsemen’s Association, and active in many other civic enterprises, is the purchaser and developer. He is a well-known builder, having pioneered the development of such local areas as Rancho Royale, and Sun View Estates, and is connected with the building and development of famous Thunderbird Ranch and Country Club.
It is fitting that such a man should set the standard of quality for the new Deep Well Ranch Estates and carry on its high tradition. Many of the residential sites have already been acquired by prominent winter residents who are aware of the many advantages of locating their Palm Springs home in this area. The fact that Bill Grant has placed on his architectural committee men of such prominence as Cliff May (considered America’s foremost designer of California ranch-type.

homes), and Phil Boyd, destines this to become Palm Springs’ finest residential colony.
One enters from the Palm Springs-Indio Highway over a beautiful new divided roadway, landscaped and decorated at the attractive entrance. One cannot help but be awed by the panoramic view of mountain and desert on his first visit to Deep Well Ranch Estates.
The Bennetts who, since leasing Deep Well, have been living in the village, are also coming home to roost. After looking over all the possibilities throughout the desert area for a building site and finding nothing comparable to Deep Well with its breathtaking vistas and unique protection from the desert winds, they have decided to retain three acres of the ranch property and plan to build within the year. Cliff May will design their home. They may not have an alfalfa patch, nor will Indian ponies graze near their windows, but it’s a sure bet that they will have plenty of water, and a most delightful place to call home.

Nellie Coffman and the Desert Inn

Introduction

Nellie Coffman & The Desert Inn

By: Kitty Kieley Hayes
Originally Presented in our DENO Newsletter
Winter 2013

Thanks to DENO board member Cindy Quin, we are pleased to present this article written by Kitty Hayes for our DENO Newsletter. Kitty is Nellie Coffman’s great granddaughter. Her grandfather was Nellie’s youngest son, Owen Earl Coffman. Earl—besides helping his mother manage the Desert Inn—was the driving force/visionary for the building of the tramway. Kitty’s mother, Elizabeth Coffman was the fourth non-indian child born in Palm Springs.


Nellie Coffman and the Desert Inn

Chapter Two

Palm Springs began on the path to world renown in December of 1909 when Dr. and Mrs. Harry Coffman arrived to open The Desert Inn and Sanatorium. It started when Dr. Coffman’s wife, Nellie, contracted pneumonia - he sent her to Idyllwild to recover. On a horse-back ride though the mountains one day, she was at a desert overlook south of Tahquitz Canyon. There she saw the glistening desert shimmering below, and heard it calling to her. After her recovery, she returned to the family home in Santa Monica, and later made a visit to the village of Palm Springs. She stayed at Elizabeth and Welwood Murray’s Palm Springs Hotel, located on the north-east corner Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Drive. Their visitors came to relax and enjoy the beauties of the isolated wilderness. Others came for the healing properties of the desert climate and the hot spring operated by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Her visit convinced her that this was the place where the family needed to be.
When she returned to Santa Monica, she persuaded Harry to give up his medical practice, and sell their property, and move to the desert. She wanted to start a hotel. Harry, having watched Nellie’s parents operate a hotel, did not want to cater to guests. So they decided to operate a sanatorium where guests could come to receive medical treatments, and practice living a healthy life with good food, exercise, and proximity to nature. Her son George Roberson, a student at the Arizona School of Mines, and their son Earl Coffman joined them and the family began to build the business.

The family started with a few buildings on a few acres at the northwest corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Drive. The guests and the patients came for treatments to heal the ill. However, many had trouble paying their bills. So after a few years, it became solely a hotel; and Harry continued to be the village physician. With their success, they bought parcels abutting the original property until they owned nearly 17 acres.
After about 10 years, Harry and Nellie separated - Harry relocated to Calexico to establish a medical practice. Nellie was determined to continue the hotel, dreaming of building a world-class facility. She was inspired by the Mission Inn in Riverside. She worked tirelessly to provide the best quality of care and comfort for the guests. She saw the importance of publicity, and often wrote the copy for promotions for the inn. With her superior hospitality, she established clientele among the captains of industry and influential patrons, and the hotel garnered a reputation for excellence.
In the early 1920s, George Roberson introduced his friend and building designer, Charles Tanner, to his mother. She described her dream to him and together they worked on plans for the mission style buildings for the resort.


Nellie Coffman and the Desert Inn

Chapter Three

An early guest at the hotel was Thomas O’Donnell who prospered developing the oil fields of Long Beach. He came to the hotel to relax, and struck up a close relationship with Nellie. When it came time to build her dream, he guided her to obtain loans through Security Bank in Riverside to finance the construction. As part of the construction project, Nellie originated the first land lease in Palm Springs by leasing a parcel of land to Mr. and Mrs. O’Donnell on the hillside west of the inn. Mr. Tanner designed a home there for the O’Donnells with Nellie overseeing its construction. Each day, morning and night all summer long, that 58-year-old woman climbed the trail to the site to inspect what was being done.
As the buildings began to take shape, Nellie’s sons played an integral part in the process. George, an engineer, and Earl were there daily to help with the building and inspect to work. They kept in constant contact with the builder and the bank, insisting on the best quality for every step of the process.
By 1926 the buildings were complete. The fabulous new hotel continued to serve its usual clientele and attract new guests. Word of mouth and appropriate publicity continued to draw wonderful guests. With her sons, they continued to build a reputation for superior quality with attention to every detail. In order to provide a superior level of service, there were two employees for every guest. Guest’s every need could be met. The publicity for The Desert Inn always included wonderful descriptions of Palm Springs and she coined the expression “America’s Foremost Desert Resort”.

Nellie was not only concerned with building the family business, she was also deeply involved in life in the village. All of the staff at the hotel were housed and fed in hotel facilities.
Having come from very humble circumstances and having been blessed with good fortune, she wished to share her bounty. Charity was a leading theme in her life. She assisted many families in need, sending carpenters from the hotel to repair leaking roofs and giving beds to families with none. She was one of the original founders of Welfare and Friendly Aid which became United Way. She was a sponsor of the founding of the Palm Springs Women’s Club and gave support for the founding of St. Theresa School. She gave donations to every church in the village. For her hard work to develop Palm Springs and many kindnesses, she was called Mother Coffman.
Education was foremost in her mind. She established a school at The Desert Inn for the children of guests. She was active in the elementary school that was the only campus for the Desert School District. She served with distinction on the board of trustees for over 20 years, helping with the planning and supervision of Frances Stevens School. She was also the desert’s representative on the Banning Union High School District, and lobbied that body to establish a campus in Palm Springs. She succeeded with the school opening in the fall of 1938. This is the 75th anniversary of that school. For her efforts, Nellie N. Coffman Junior High School was named in her honor.
She instilled in the family and the employees a desire to always serve the guests and all of the villages with kindness and care. The Desert Inn established the reputation of being a haven of peace, tranquility, and quality services.


Nellie Coffman and the Desert Inn

Chapter Four

The Desert Inn continued to serve it guests, provide employment for villagers, and promote Palm Springs, After World War II, the family was finally able to pay the entire mortgage. Granny enjoyed the tranquility of the hotel with family and guests who had become dear friends.
Because there were no evaporative coolers, let alone air conditioning at The Desert Inn, the hotel closed on the first weeks of May for the summer and reopened at the end of October. Because of the summer heat, Granny purchased a small cottage as a summer retreat in Banning where it is about 20 degrees cooler. It was there that in June of 1950, she had a heart attack and died. On the day of her funeral, every business in Palm Springs closed for the hours of her service and Welwood Murray Cemetery was crowded with villagers who came to pay their last respects for the woman who loved and helped them over so many years.

Desert Inn Palm Springs  1913

The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Introduction

Unofficial History Of Deepwell

By: Ron Root
Series Originally Presented in Nine Installments
Circa late 2000

As a newer resident (1996), I find myself slightly handicapped as neighborhood historian. But smitten by the charm of Old Palm Springs, I have been moved to research and write about our lovely Deepwell. My love for the Coachella Valley really started in the “golden celebrity era” in the late ‘40’s. I came here with my parents as tourists from Laguna Beach to “star gaze.” Yes, we saw movie stars, but as a child, I was more impressed with riding a camel in Indio as part of the “Arabian Nights” festivities.
Many years later, while searching for a home to fit my semi-retired state of mind, I heard Realtors make strange references to Palm Springs neighborhoods such as Las Palmas, The Movie Colony, Araby, The Mesa, Little Tuscany and lovely Deepwell. Although these areas were not defined on my AAA map, I eventually garnered some sense of location and more importantly, the nature of each neighborhood. In 1992, Palm Springs Life launched a series of short profiles about these neighborhoods. As I relate stories, I will draw information from the few existent written sources. But the most lively resource will be you, the individuals who have resided here longer than I have.

Please share any information you can about how the area developed, resident celebrities, interesting moments and decisions that shaped this place we call Deepwell. I plan to relate this information bit-by-bit in our newsletters and create some historical archives for the newly reorganized Deepwell Homeowners Association.
Were did the “Deepwell” title come from? What existed before homes began springing up? What important people lived here? More celebrities lived in the area than one might guess. How has the neighborhood evolved? I have found some answers to these questions.


The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Chapter Two

The earliest residents of the valley were the Agua Caliente tribe of the Mission band of Cahuilla Indians and later the Mexicans. They called this desert “The hollow of God’s Hand” (La Palma de la Mano de Dios). I like that better than “God’s waiting room” as some call it today. A small Indian village with about 15 acres planted in figs and grapes excited here in the Deepwell area. In 1880, two white men, W.E. Van Slyke and M. Byrne of San Bernardino purchased the first Palm Springs ranch land form an Indian, Pedro Chino. These first speculators sold John McCallum a fifth interest in their accumulated 320 acres. He, in turn, leased land to a Welwood Murray for a small wood and adobe hotel to be built in 1886. Water moved 19 miles across the desert via a stone-walled canal called the Whitewater Ditch. Many fruit orchards were planted.

Promoters developed the area with two syndicates being formed. McCallum and three other men formed the “Palm Valley Land and Water Company.” “The Southern California Land and Immigration Company” was the other. The area called Smoke Tree Ranch today was originally developed as “Palmdale.” Early prosperity slowed to a trickle with an eleven year drought starting in 1894. Many settlers left the area.
This brief foundation of Palm Springs as a community will be followed in our next issue with the development of the Deepwell Ranch Estates.
More detailed information covering the pioneer days are handsomely displayed at the Village Green Heritage Center in the center of downtown Palm Springs. Again, I appreciate any information about celebrities who lived in Deepwell for part 4 of this history.


The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Chapter Three

In 1912, after George Hamilton Fitch was defeated by the 10 year drought, he sold to a man named Walker who replanted apricots, olive and pepper trees.
In 1916, Oliver McKinney leased and later acquired Fitches land and planted apricots, alfalfa and castor bean trees. Unfortunately, water control was diverted to the north end of town so everything died except the hardy castor beans.
A decade later, Henry Pearson, a scientist, purchased the property. He drilled a well and hit water at 100 feet. With scientific curiosity, he drilled even deeper passing several water stratum and quit at 630 feet. Thus the name Deepwell was coined. A ranch house with guest house was built by Alva Hicks.
In 1928 Chrlie Doyle bought and converted the structures into the Deepwell Guest Ranch with accommodations for 22 guests. It was really more like a resort than a dude ranch.
The following year Doyle sold to Major Everetts and Carrol Smith. They created hacienda-type buildings around patios. Two years later, the Bennetts and the Boyds first operated, then purchased the ranch.

Frank and Melba Bennett ran the ranch for the next 18 years. Phil and Dorothy Boyd lived in the village (Phil became the first mayor of Palm Springs in 1938). He built the first few homes next to the ranch and named the streets after horses – Pinto and Palomino.
In 1949, the ranch and twenty surrounding acres were leased to Yoland Markson of Boston. The acreage was then subdivided. Bill Grant, a locally popular developer of Thunderbird Ranch was purchaser and developer. Later streets were named after desert flora – Cactus, Manzanita, Ocotillo, Mesquite, Palm Tree, Driftwood and Sagebrush.
La Paz Dude Ranch was turned into a hotel in 1950. Eventually it became La Paz Condominiums. L’Horizon, adjacent property later became Suntan Lane. In the sixties, a theater-in-the-round featuring world famous performers was located behind Biltmore Place.
Bill Bone, a major valley developer built Deepwell Condominiums on the original Boyd-Bennett ranch site in 1970. Cougars and boa constrictors in Deepwell! We will cover that curiosity and their celebrity keepers in the next newsletter.


The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Chapter Four

The William Holden Estate at 1323 Driftwood is one of the largest and most recognized homes in Deepwell. It was the sit eof our first potluck party of the revived Deepwell Neighborhood Association in 1998, hosted by Jan and Steve Reid.
This home was created in 1955 by George and Marcia Barrett. He was the District Attorney of Cook County and Marcia was an artist. The house sits on nearly an acre, comprising four city lots. Mrs. Barrett designed the house which covers over 4000 square feet. It was built by Joe Pawling. The Barretts were art and object collectors of the Far East and needed the appropriate house for their authentic possessions. The house was basically charcoal, black and white in color. East met West in desert style architecture with an oriental flair.
The original furnishings used accents of citron, turquoise and peach. They called it “Apricot Hall of the Desert Moon.” Shoji panels, teakwood, floor pillows and old Chinese museum pieces rested on white terrazzo floors.
William Holden purchased the house in the mid sixties. He loved Palm Springs as it reminded him of Kenya, where he also had a home. He actually introduced some African plants and trees to the Coachella Valley.
He needed a place for his African-Oriental collection. Bill, then in his 50’s, separated from his wife Ardis, considered Palm Springs his American headquarters. His mother lived in the house next door on the North side.
Other women in his life were Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Capucine, Pat Satuffer and in 1974 he met Stephanie Powers. She spoke 7 languages and became the ideal travel companion for Bill. He was 56 and she was 32. They never married.

Bill often commuted to Los Angeles on his black Honda motorcycle. In 1975, he cut way back on his drinking, but still smoked heavily.He was known in the neighborhood for his grapefruit margaritas. “Bertie”, Bill’s pet python, kept escaping at parties to the dismay of guests. The snake liked to swim in the pool. Unfortunately, his wonderful personality turned mean while drinking as I can attest to after sharing an airplane passage with him.
He was probably best known for his part in “Sunset Boulevard” in 1949. Ironically, his career began with a film about a handsome young boxer, “The Golden Boy” (1939) and ended with the film, “S.O.B.” (1981), a vitriolic attack on tinseltown. In 1975 he started designing the 7000 square foot house on Southridge. The home on four acres was completed in 1977 to house his growing art collection. Many of these prized pieces can be seen now at the Desert Museum in Palm Springs. Nick Shamees, owner of Felix Chevrolet in Los Angeles was the next owner until 1990.
Lou Barransha, a rancher from Thermal and Tippi Hendren, the actress, were the next residents. In an early film, she played a model “Miss Ice Box” in the 50’s film “The Pretty Girls.” But she is most known for the role as the mysterious playgirl trapped in a telephone booth by "The Birds” (1963) by Alfred Hitchcock. She kept a cougar on the property and eventually opened an animal rescue preserve. Her daughter, Melanie Griffith and her husband Don Johnson would visit.
Steven and Janet Reid owned and upgraded the home from 1996 to 1999. Fortunately, they still reside in the Deepwell area. Jan kept the rose gardens in show quality condition nearly year round.
The current owner of the house is David Jackson, a news broadcaster for KABC, Channel 7 in Los Angeles. I remember him from Channel 5 in San Francisco. We welcome him and his lovely wife, to Deepwell.


The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Chapter Five

I have selected to write about the celebrities on each block of Deepwell. Manzanita Avenue certainly had its share during the 50’s and 60’s.
Ironically, our most recent movie star just passed away in August at the age of 87. Loretta Young, who certainly lived up to her name in appearance, resided at 1075 Manzanita Avenue. We will miss seeing her lighted angel display on the corner during the Christmas season. She was a strong supporter of St. Louis Catholic Church in Cathedral City and told the local bishop, “She was ready to die and she looked forward to going home.” Her last husband, Jean Louis, the Oscar-winning Hollywood costume designer, passed away in 1997. Loretta, an actress for 75 years, made nearly one hundred movies but was best known for her long-running TV series, “The Loretta Young Show.” On down the street, at 1240 Manzanita resides Jack Stephan, the founder of the LA based Stephan’s Plumbing chain. He has been a resident since 1971. One of the first houses on Manzanita, 1297, was owned by Julie London in the mid to late 50’s. Ironically, she was my babysitter in the 40’s and went on to become a famous singer. She was married to Jack Webb (of TV’s Dragnet). Their divorce ended with a huge financial settlement. Later, around 1960, he had the house next door (#1255) built so he could keep a watch on his ex-wife. “Just the facts, ma’am” Jack was also a TV and Radio producer.
On the other side of Julie London Webb at 1315 resided Earl and Anne Goldenberg. When he asked her to marry, he told her he was

“rolling in dough.” He actually meant he owned a bakery. Later, the Goldenberg’s leased their home to Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher. Liz spent time in Palm Springs with husbands, Michael Todd and Richard Burton as well as her mother who lived nearby.
One of the later residents of 1315 was Bill Beck, owner of the Red Tomato restaurant in Cathedral City. The residence is now owned by Jim Jones and his wife, the most recent elected member of the Palm Springs city council.
At 1350, a 30’s starlet, Sally Eilers lived with Hoot Gibson, a cowboy idol of the 20’s and 30’s. They were party people of the best of Palm Springs tradition.
Home to the youngest of the Gabor sisters, Eva lived at 1509 Manzanita. She starred in TV’s Green Acres and later represented the world’s largest wig makers. Eva’s social escort was most often Merv Griffin, who is well known to us all.
The cute Mediterranean style house at 1516 was the second desert home of the famous entertainer, Liberace. The famed pianist entertained 60 people – his TV show crew, relatives and friends for Thanksgiving 1958. He often performed at the local famous Chi Chi club. His last and most famous desert home was located on Belardo Rooad in the Las Palmas area of Palm Springs.
Other famous Deepwell homeowners will follow in the next issue.


The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Chapter Six

Notable residents of Deepwell were not always movie stars. Sherman Harris, who previously owned 960 Driftwood, is well known in the community for his wonderful Sherman’s Deli and Bakery on Tahquitz Drive as well as the Alpine restaurant at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Sherman was a war hero and hero to many local charities. Currently, you can spot Sherman about town with our Neighborhood watch leader Romemary Cinque of 1386 Driftwood Drive.
A most unique home, 1106 Driftwood was built by Liberace for his mother. Unfortunately, she never resided in this 19th century, French Chateau style home. Perhaps he couldn’t find a grand enough candelabra for the fancy porte-cochere. The home of Phil Moody, a Hollywood musician and owner of the Desert’s famous Moody’s Supper Club, is at 1440 Driftwood.
A man who came to Palm Springs in 1946 became a well known developer or parts of downtown. He created the Historical La Plaza area, Sun Center and much of Ramon Road and Indian Canyon Drive.

He served on the City Council from 1968-1972, not to mention Desert Hospital Foundation, Boy Scouts, the Jewish Community Center, the United Fund, Desert Museum, McCallum Theater, COD, and the Chamber of Commerce. Zachary Pitts was honored with a sidewalk star at La Plaza Court. His home address was 1055 Calle de Maria from 1958 to 1975.
The highly admired home at 1207 Calle de Maria was designed by the famous architect, Arthur Elrod. Elrod’s masterpiece, his own home, is near Bob Hope’s hilltop home on the hill referred to as Southridge.
The Jerry Lewis’ family owned a home at 1349 Sagebrush Road from the late 50’s into the 70’s. First known as the Martin and Lewis comedy team of television and later in films, he then went on to pen about 200 theaters, called the Network Cinema group. We currently look forward to seeing him on the annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.
Other famous Deepwell homeowners will follow in the next issue of the Deepwell newsletter.


The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Chapter Seven

Calle Rolph had its share of celebrities too. The famous Latin bombshell, Carmen Miranda, came to Palm Springs hoping to alleviate her chronic sinus problem. Before going to Hollywood, Carmen gained fame in the 1939 Carnaval, Rio De Janeiro, by dancing and singing in a hoop skirt with a basket of fruit balanced on her turbaned head. Her home was 1044 Calle Rolph in the late forties. She was married to David Sabastion. Carmen loved to bar-be-cue and often had notable guests such as Marlon Brando. She passed away in 1955.
At 1280 Calle Rolph, lived the famous character actress, Marjorie Main. Born 1890 in Action, Indiana, she began her career at a late age as a stage actress. After a long term contract with MGM, she was loaned to Universal to become the popular movie character, “Ma Kettle.” Completing 9 films as the same character, Marjorie retired to her homes in LA and Palm Springs in the late ‘50’s. She later owned a home on Rimrock and a retreat in Idyllwild. At the age of 80, Main died after a long battle with cancer.
Oscar Mayer, the famous Chicago meat packer, purchased homes in Deepwell twice. The 2 homes he owned were located at 1353 Calle Rolph and 1155 Cactus Road. The property on Cactus was also owned by Carl Lesserman, the developer of Pay-Per-View television.

The oldest street bordering Deepwell is Mesquite Avenue. Ginny Simms, the vocalist for Kay Cyser’s band, lived at 1139 East mesquite. Russell Wade, Indian Wells realtor and ‘40’s actor, was at 1422 Mesquite Avenue. Charles Winninger, who played Cap’n Andy in the 1936 version of “Showboat” resided at 1580 Mesquite.
The newest street developed in Deepwell had only one house that dated back to the ‘50’s. The home was built by Rick Harrison, a popular local architect at 1055 Suntan Lane. His modern style is similar to William Cody, another notable architect in this area. He had the street to himself until the early ‘60’s.
We will again notice children in our neighborhood with the 2001 opening of the totally rebuilt Cahuilla Elementary School. What a handsome contemporary structure it has turned out to be. (Did you notice it takes literally years to build a school, but only a few months to create a huge new Casino.) We welcome all those who will be involved in the new campus and wish them well and the hope that it will continue to enrich our neighborhood.


The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Chapter Eight

After the dining room of the Deep Well Inn burned down in the 1960’s, the condominiums of Deep Well Ranch were built in 1976. Elizabeth Taylor had a place there as well as the famous manager of both the Dodgers and later the Giants – Leo Durocher. Also of interest, our popular Smoke Tree Village opened in 1965. Designed by Howard Laphan of Palm Springs, it included Ethel’s Hideaway run by John and Ethel Harutum. They previously owned the Hideaway, a night-spot at Deep Well Ranch, and originally operated the legendary Dollhouse in 1945. There seems to be some confusion concerning whether our neighborhood should be identified as Deep Well (two words) or one word, like our street Deepwell Road. Our area was originally advertised in the Villager (the predecessor to Palm Springs Life magazine) by Boggess Realtors in October 1952: “Coming attraction – in the immediate future, a quality subdivision to be known as Deep Well Colony Estates”. An aerial view photo of the empty lots, boasting of fine paved streets with cement curbs and gutters accompanied the ad. The large mid-section of lots was prepared for homes all at once and later the existing older streets were added to Deep Well.
Generally, the age of the homes reflect the age of the street created. Homes on Mesquite Avenue date from the 30’s, Rolph, Marcus and Sunrise from the mid 40’s, followed by Paolmino and Pinto.

In 1952 ten streets were develpoed, including Maria, Marcia, Deepwell and others named after desert plants. By 1956, there were three residents on a newly created street called Palm Tree Lane.
“Cactus Slim” Moorten helped suggest the botanical street names and was responsible for landscaping most of the older “desert style” gardens in Deepwell, especially ones with large bolder and native plants. His wife, Patricia, now in her 80’s, still resides at nearby Moorten Botanical Garden in the Cactus Castle, a historical landmark home previously owned by photographer Steven Willard.
Willard’s love for desert flora was manifested through his outstanding print collection recently acquired and displayed at the Palm Springs Desert museum. His black and white photos are similar in style, but actually preceded those of Ansel Adams. His hand-colored prints truly reflect the beauty of the Coachella Valley.
As mentioned before, the latest development in our area is the total reconstruction of Cahuilla Elementary School at a cost of 10.5 million dollars. It has an enrollment of over 600 students. It seems that the renewed interest in mid-century modern homes as well as the consistency and convenience of our neighborhood, has contributed to the continuing desirability of Deepwell.


The Unofficial History Of Deepwell

Chapter Nine

In 1952, when Deep Well Colony Estates officially started development as a subdivision, a Deep Well Architectural Committee was created which declared size, type of dwellings and general aesthetics for this neighborhood. Preserving the views and maintaining a residential environment was paramount. This has since become a function of the City Planning Department.
Much later, the seed for a neighborhood organization began with needs for a Neighborhood Watch group, 25 mph speed limits and other signs dealing with code enforcement for RV’s, trucks and long term parking on the streets, and a desire for a united voice when petitioning City Hall on behalf of our residents. Members who served as officers from 1995 until March of 1998 were: Dave Weston, President; Ron Johnson, Vice President; (following Zola Nichols) Ralph Sheplow, Treasurer; and Rosemary Cinque as Secretary. Neighborhood Watch Captains helped to make up a Board of Directors. City Hall recognized us and much was accomplished.
In 1997, the existing leadership asked for volunteers to carry on their good works. They promoted a wider range of goals and added some social functions so neighbors got to know one another better. In June, 1998, a temporary Board of Directors was created. Sharon Lock, Kay Manchester, Mary Gudinas, Bob Walker, Rosemary Cinque and Dan Keniley worked with committees to formulate the purpose, transition, incorporation, finances and goals of the organization. In January, 1999, the total membership ratified their work, voted to confirm those on the temporary Board and added Claudio Gamlin, Bob Szurgot and Jim Jones to the leadership.

Manchester and Walker moved from the neighborhood and were replaced by John Siepp and Rick Goldstein. Each Board position is on a three-year rotation basis. The original newsletter, The Deepwell Parrot (named for some wild parrots sighted in our area), developed by Greg Asher, became The Deepwell Roadrunner. On june 17, 1998, the Deepwell Estates Neighborhood Organization (DENO) was reborn. Simultaneously, a coalition of neighborhoods with Las Palmas, Movie Colony, Tennis Club and Racquet Club, boasting similar organizations as ours, was forming. We usually led the pack with creative ideas. Our original organization transferred a generous balance (over $5000) to help the new association get off to a great start. Dues are still only $25 per year. Successful projects have included collective bargaining prices for palm tree trimming services, combating the Red Imported Fire Ant menace, mediation services between neighbors and recently a Community Emergency Repose Team (CERT).
Social events include an annual block party in the fall, a progressive Mardi Gras Party, a Spring Deepwell Garden Walk and our annual meeting in January. The 2001 Board Members include: Philip Wright and Tom Hohmeier, Co-Chairmen; Dan Baergen, Secretary; Dan Keniley, Treasurer; Joyce Allen, Rosemary Cinque, Rick Goldstein. Armando Rancano and Darren Zenteno resigned and were replaced by Ruthie Frazee and Michael Hensley.
Rosemary Cinque has generously continued to head the Neighborhood Watch program since 1995. Without all of the time and efforts of our membership and Board of Directors, DENO would not exist today. Thank you for helping to make Deepwell such a special place to live. This concludes the History of Deepwell articles.

   
© 2016 Deepwell Estates Neighborhood Organization