Notable Palm Springs Developer: Jack Meiselman

Jack Meiselman (15 November 1899 - 27 July 1994) was an architect and developer, who - after a brief association, and subsequent falling out, with the Alexander Company - began buying and developing smaller land parcels near (or, in some cases, immediately adjacent to) much-larger Alexander Company developments, and constructing similar modernist homes in smaller quantities

Beginning in 1956 with a development called Karlisa Cove - to the north of Demuth Park - Meiselman built in areas scattered around Palm Springs, typically less than a half dozen homes at a time: Palm Lane Estates (1956), now a part of the Sunrise Park neighborhood; Chino Palms Estates (1958), now the Victoria Park area; and Alejo Palms Estates (1959), to the immediate north of Sunmor, Meiselman also built individual homes on undeveloped in-fill lots.

From the Desert Sun, 21 February 1958, by Joe King:

"When history records the names of those who have helped build the City of Palm Springs, the name Jack Meiselman will be high on the list.

Meiselman has built homes and developments in this area, including such now-famous communities as Desert Palms Estates, Luring Sands Park, Winterhaven. Deep Well and others. Latest to be announced by the Meiselman organization is the start of a new development to lie known as Chino Palms Estates. Location is south and east of the Racquet Club.

Here will be constructed just 45 new luxury homes, bearing a price tag of only $19,900 to $21,500. Outstanding feature of these homes will be the fact that all have one of the two baths placed so that those coming from the patio or pool may enter it from the rear yard. This will be "a must" in desert home construction from now on, Meiselman pointed out.

Other desirable features are: refrigerated cooling and forced air heating: built-in range and oven: automatic dishwasher: garbage disposal; completely fenced yard and play area; two car carport: masonry fireplace: two sliding doors to pool area, from the living room and master bedroom.

Also, breakfast bar: formica counter lops; sandalwood Youngstown kitchen cabinals; vinyl asbestos tile floors in kitchen and bathrooms; cement walks and patios; large storage areas. In and paid for will be curbs, gutters, and paved streets.

A pool can tie added for only an extra $l,OOO down, it was pointed out.

Six models are now under construction at Meiselman's earlier Palm Lane development, located at Sunset Way and Andreas, These may be viewed as they progress, and orders are being taken both for Palm Lane, for 30-day move-in, or in Chino Palms, for those who can wail 90 days or more for occupancy.

Meiselman is entirely optimistic concerning the future of residential construction in the Palm Springs area. He believes that second homes will be as popular within the next few years as are second family cars today.

Also that the shorter work week, which may lie just ahead, plus non-stop completed freeways lo Los Angeles and all major metropolitan areas, is bound to make this area the number one winter living section of the nation."

Similar to the Alexander Construction Company homes, Jack Meiselman built affordable mid-twentieth-century modern post and beam homes in Palm Springs, California, during the years of 1956-1960.

In fact, these homes are so similar to the popular Alexander houses that Meiselman mid-century modern homes in Palm Springs that they are often compared to and sometimes mistaken for Alexander homes.

Meiselman and Alexander mid-century modern homes share many similar architectural attributes. Characterized by crisp clean lines, butterfly roofs, and soaring clerestory windows - the Meiselmans used post and beam construction, with tongue and groove ceilings, and architecturally sculpted concrete block as shade blocks and as a design element.

Decorative concrete blocks provide both form and function, design and sun shade, for Palm Springs Alexanders and Meiselman homes. The Meiselman homes and the Alexander homes helped define the carefree and sunny indoor / outdoor modern living lifestyle that Palm Springs is world famous for.

Meiselman houses feature large walls of glass that overlook the pool and the beautiful mountain backdrops in Palm Springs. Most Meiselman homes also included central heating and air conditioning, a new concept at the time they were built, which allowed residents year round enjoyment of their Palm Springs vacation homes.

Similar use of materials and architectural style often makes it difficult to tell an Alexander home from a Meiselman. Several distinct differences can help you determine whether you're in a Meiselman or Alexander:

1. Meiselman homes have a small galley-style kitchen adjacent to the living room, while Alexander homes have a kitchen that opens onto to the great room living area room and dining room space.

2. Meiselman homes generally have a master suite that is separate from the other guest room, while the Alexander house layout features each of the three bedrooms lined up in a row (separated by closets) on the same side of the house.

3. Windows are different in Meiselman houses. Clerestory windows near the top of the roofline are smaller and shorter than those of Alexander homes.

4. Unlike Alexander homes where the roofline varies from house to house borrowing from A-frame pitched style, flat, and butterfly, the Meiselman homes are more sharply angular and primarily make use of butterfly rooflines.

5. The site, location, and placement of the Meiselman properties is also unique from Alexanders. While the Alexander family of builders bought large plots of land to develop and built dozens (even hundreds) of similar homes in specific neighborhood tracts, Meiselman midcentury modern homes were built on scattered sites, one or two at a time, diffused throughout different neighborhoods of central and north Palm Springs. In the 1950's and 1960's, about 2,500 homes were built by the Alexander Construction Company. Meiselman built fewer than 200 houses, making Meiselman midcentury modern homes much more rare than Alexanders.

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