History of Palm Desert California

The early maps labeled it as a Sand Hole. In the 1930’s a few homes were built and lots sold in a development north of Highway 111 called Palm Village. World War II brought General Patton to Portola Avenue and to the Colorado Desert to train for African warfare; but no one ever dreamed this would become a world-class destination resort. No one except Cliff Henderson and his brothers Randall, Phil and Carl, who with brother-in-law Tommy Tomson and investors, including Edgar Bergen, Leonard Firestone and Harold Lloyd, turned a sand hole into a sparkling jewel called Palm Desert.

The brothers’ first glimpse of Deep Canyon and the Santa Rosa Mountains triggered a sense of the magic and potential of this place. They envisioned fine homes and swimming pools, schools, churches, and culture that would draw visitors and families from far and wide.

The Henderson brothers began development of 1,600 acres. Construction of the Shadow Mountain Club and the Desert Magazine Building began soon. A new spirit and energy was evolving. This is only part of the story. The rest awaits you at the Historical Society of Palm Desert, where you’ll ‘Discover the Past and Celebrate the Present.’

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Haj Kapp Ted Smith Palm Desert Real Estate Office 1950s'