Sinatra Ordered a Georgian But Got a Modern

I've been reading Frank: The Voice, the terrific new biography of Sinatra, by James Kaplan (who lives somewhere here in Westchester), and about halfway through there's a description of Sinatra's house, in Palm Springs. Sinatra had gone to the architect and ordered a Georgian mansion. He went to visit the architect to see the drawings:

E. Stewart Williams had shown Frank Sinatra two very different sets of drawings: one was of the Georgian mansion Frank had requested, and the other depicted Williams's far more modern concept, a low-lying concrete structure with tall picture windows and a shed roof. The young architect had literally held his breath as the singer scanned the drawings, a serious look on his tanned features. Sinatra's domineering reputation had preceded him, yet Williams, trying to forge a career, knew that building Georgian in the desert -- impractical as well as retrograde -- would make him a laughingstock in the field. He wold be seen as a servant rather than as an artist. Frank nodded, frowning, as he inspected the modern design, then, suddenly looking interested, nodded some more.

Williams exhaled.

The house wasn't quite a mansion -- at forty-five hundred square feet, it was large but not gigantic, and there were only four bedrooms -- but the rooms and the windows were big, and every window, as well as a sliding glass wall, looked out onto the swimming pool, which was shaped (Williams couldn't help smiling at this inspired touch) like a grand piano. A breezeway over one end of the pool was designed to shed shadows that would resemble piano keys. Bright sun and sparkling light off the pool filled the living room: if shade was needed, the flick of a switch closed a $7,000 motorized curtain. In the distance stony Mount San Jacinto shimmered white in the fierce sun; in the foregound, two palm trees waved in the desert wind. ... Frank would call the place Twin Palms.

Here's the Twin Palms website.
-- ta

Walls of stone

I love stone walls – not just the kind that define every property line and delineate each road in my town, but also the ones inside houses. Far from being cold, the color and texture of native stone has always seemed inviting, friendly, and somehow warm. Renovating old purpose-built structures to give them new life as people-dwellings often uncovers the beauty of those utilitarian walls of stone – where cows formerly rubbed their sides and farm tools hung now is a focal point of a high-ceilinged room. I'm particularly taken when a wall of stone is both the external and internal surface of a house, which act to even more closely connect it to its environment.

Here are some nice examples of that look by the French architect Thomas Vidalenc. Talk about old structures, the Maison Ferriers, (the 4 photos at the bottom), is mentioned as early as the year 1168. Those are some old walls! – GF

The Orgasmatron is Really an Elevator

The house that Woody Allen used as a futuristic setting in Sleeper -- the one that featured the Orgasmatron -- is the subject of some controversy, and is about to be sold.

It's known as the Sculptured House. Designed in the early 1960s by architect Charles Deaton, it is perched on a mountaintop in Golden, Colorado.

In the movie, Woody's character, Miles Monroe, thought he was walking into a closet and ended up getting lucky. In real life, the Orgasmatron, though, is an elevator. We saw it this morning in the Times, here.

-- ta