“While the rest of the world was partying like it was 1999 (because it was), a group of 10 Palm Springs preservationists was gathering for its first meeting at Courtney Newman’s furnishings store, ModernWay, in Palm Springs. Their nonprofit organization, Palm Springs Modern Committee, aka PS ModCom, had serious business to discuss: saving the 1955 Albert Frey-designed Fire Station No. 1 from demolition to make way for a parking garage. Their success was magnified by the station’s eventual Class 1 Historic Site designation approved by the Palm Springs City Council.
Four years later, in 2003, PS ModCom presented its first Annual Preservation Awards to celebrate local midcentury modern architecture and the individuals devoted to safeguarding it.
The group now has an email list of more than 1,800 subscribers, with Newman serving as board president. Board members and executive director Nickie McLaughlin recommend honorees for the annual awards, which are presented at a swinging dinner-and-drinks event that unofficially kicks off the modernism season. Proceeds help fund college scholarships, community outreach, publication of desert modernism books, and the retainer of an attorney to assist with research and political advocacy on behalf of preservation.
This year’s awards presentation, which took place Oct. 8 at Palm Springs Art Museum, recognized “owners who had the foresight to not only preserve but also to restore, renovate, rehabilitate, reimagine, or adaptively reuse/repurpose an existing building,” McLaughlin says. Collectively, the honorees “preserve our architectural legacy” and raise awareness of significant properties.
And the winners are…”