Kirk Douglas Palm Springs Home: Historic Status.

Hello, Colonel "Jiggs" Casey?  Ah, you don't know the Colonel. Well maybe you should because he literally saved the Presidency from a military-style Coup D'Etat.  Yep, that's Kirk Douglas for you.  The movie? Seven Days in May.  One of our favorites. It was also a favorite for John F. Kennedy. He watched it in the White House basement theater.  Many might reference Kirk in Spartacus as the key film and it's great but this film stands out for us because of the plot, and the solid acting by all characters including Kirk's real-life friend Burt Lancaster.

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Kirk Douglas Homes in Palm Springs

There is more buzz about The Kirk Douglas House – his second home – than the first one but we still have to tell the story about his two homes in Palm Springs.

Kirk Douglas’ First Home in the Movie Colony

From 1955-1957, Kirk and Anne (Buyden) Douglas lived at 1069 East Marshall Way. Situated in what is dubbed ‘The Movie Colony’ neighborhood in Palm Springs, the area was developed between 1930-1940 as a nearby getaway for Hollywood celebrities from their Los Angeles/Hollywood estates.  Besides Kirk Douglas, other big-name stars included Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Estee Lauder, and Big Crosby and the movie colony had about 170 homes associated with the Hollywood studio system.

More recently, the Kirk’s first home was remodelled and sold, in 2013, for $639,000 with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. According to another listing on Estately, the house sold again for $900,000 in July 2015. Remodeled again, it was listed as a 2225 square foot home with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, on a 10,890 square foot lot.

Kirk Douglas in a beard with short hair in Amsterdam wearing a suit in black and white photo
“File:Amerikaanse filmster Kirk Douglas in Amsterdam. Hij is Nederland voor opnames va, Bestanddeelnr 907-3153.jpg” by Herbert Behrens / Anefo is marked under CC0 1.0.

In architectural terms, this home is more contemporary with softer or rounded lines compared to stark lines you’d see in modern design.  Contemporary really focuses on the present and future where mid-century modern was predominant in the 1950-1969 period. At time of sale, the home sported vaulted ceilings which is a self-supporting arch above walls and beneath the room.   Contemporary interiors focus on neutral elements, bold color, and basics in line, form, or shape. By the way, the vaulted ceiling has been traced back to villages in Neolithic Crete!  The Neolithic period began 12,000 years ago and represents the latter part of the Stone Age as first developments in farming began to appear.

Residential swimming pool with tanning chairs, palm trees and mountains in the background in Palm Springs California

According to the Estately listing at the time, Kirk’s first home sported the following features:

Attached casita (small home – common in the South-Western US) and bathOpen kitchen with stainless kitchenware and Caesar stone countertops
Expansive room and spacing with amazing fireplaceTypical of mid-century modern design, glass sliding doors open to the resort-inspired backyard with remodeled saline pool and tiled outdoor shower
Entertaining spaces with a background view of mountains and a fire feature (pit) which is common in Palm Springs or outdoor spa experiencesA master bedroom with sliding doors to the backyard, spa-quality master bath, soaking tub, large walk-in shower, private water closet, and large walk-in closet
A home automation smart system and leased solar panel system (see Google Maps Streetview below)
2015 Listed Real Estate Features on Estately

If this peaked your curiosity for real estate listings in the Movie Colony neighborhood, please visit the Paul Kaplan Group.

Kirk Douglas’ Second Home in Old Las Palmas Neighborhood

The Douglas’s second home, known as the Kirk Douglas House , is located at 515 W Via Lola, Palm Springs. The home  was designed and built by architects Donald Wexler and Robert Higgins in 1954.  Originally, it was built for Bob Howard (Colony Palms Hotel owner), the son of American auto dealer businessman and Seabiscuit owner Charles Steward Howard. Bob didn’t stay in it too long, selling it to the Douglas couple in 1957.  

The home was originally “connected to” the home of Dinah Shore which is currently owned by Leonardo DiCaprio and, yes, you can rent Leonardo’s home but that’s another article! Kirk and Anne Buyden Douglas would live in their second home until they sold the property for a cool $1.3 million in 1999. 

Below, you can access Google Map Streetview in two modes: Map and satellite 2D or 3D view.

Kirk and Anne Douglas: Second Home on W. La Viola in Palm Springs

In 1957, when Kirk and Anne moved into the mid-century modern desert home, they decided to do a bit of home renovation themselves by adding an interior atrium, a three-car motor court, converting a garage to guest house, and giving the place a new face-lift.  They added more square footage by buying adjacent parcels of land for a tennis court, K-shaped saltwater pool, gymnasium, spa, landscaped garden atrium and various patios.  Between the court and pool, the pavilion would display vintage movie posters.

According to Architectural Digest, the home had post-and-beam low ceilings, originally featured four bedrooms, Saltillo tile floors, asphalt and gravel roof, flagstone walls, glass adornments. According to the Los Angeles Times, this playground would sport five bedrooms and 8 baths packed nearly into a  3,790 square foot home sitting on a 32,670 square foot (0.75 acres) lot.  The home was dressed in floor-to-ceiling glass to blend the experience between indoor and outdoor, showcased a mirrored wet bar, formal seating, open living and dining room and an updated spacious kitchen with granite counter and custom finishes. 

Kirk’s master suite had three closets and denim blue walls while Anne’s Suite had mirrored closets.  Lance Gerber, a Coachella Valley photographer, had 42 amazing photos of the residence in one write-up on the property but you can see more of his amazing photos on his portfolio website.  To die-for real estate photography. Must see.

Kirk’s children described their Las Palmas residence as a magical place with many celebrities nearby or next door like the connected space to Dinah Shore’s home (now owned by Leonardo DiCaprio). While Sinatra would have his cocktail parties, it seems the Douglas’s were just fine with tennis parties every weekend. The family often spent summers at the Palm Springs residence and  as party hosts, the family guests were A-listers including Henry Kissinger, Warren Beatty, Burt Lancaster (Yes! Seven Days in May – amazing Douglas film with Lancaster if you’ve not seen it), Stanley Kubrick, Lady Bird and Lynda Bird Johnson, Gregory Peck, the eternally-attractive Natalie Wood, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  

The Douglas’s even leased the place for summer getaways and even wedding receptions.

Canadian Couple Pay $3.5 Million for Las Palmas Estate

In 2016, Kirk Douglas’ former estate was sold for $3.5 million to the owners of Canadian retail and lifestyle brand, Roots Canada, according to a Los Angeles times report.  The Roots Canada founders, Michael Budman and Don Green, actually overpaid by $50,000.  The agents were Bennion Deville Homes.  In the Desert Sun, listing agent Jim Schwietz states the property received multiple offers in sealed bids.

The successful sale to the new owners clearly had some influential support. We discovered that Kirk’s son Michael Douglas and Katherine Zeta-Jones are close friends of Roots Canada power-couple Michael Budman and wife Diane Bald.  The Canadian couple have two children and still call Toronto home while maintaining a cabin in Algonquin Park.  Given their lifestyle branding, we’re not surprised by that either.   

Diane Bald is a highly successful Toronto-born architect so not surprised to see why they renovated the home!  She is also very involved in the development of the Roots brand and business.  In 2017, Michael and Diane re-modeled the original property sensibly and Michael Douglas gleefully mentioned it in a Facebook post.

Kirk Douglas House Awarded Historical Site Designation

In January 2020, the Kirk Douglas House was awarded historic status by the Palm Springs City Council and will join a list of 100 historic homes and structures that possess Class 1 or 2 historical status, according to the Desert Sun.  

The Desert Sun states this allows owners to apply for a Mills Act contract. The Diane Budman Bald Family Trust, the 2016 buyers, sought the designation because it could help reduce property taxes.  However, the status ensures any significant exterior changes must engage a citizens group.

The property’s historic status is the result of historic integrity, association to significant individuals, and certain design characteristics according to the Palm Springs paper.

One of the Kirk Douglas Homes Available for Rent

Yes, you can rent a Kirk Douglas home.  Not the second one but the first one. 😉  You probably thought you could rent the La Viola home in Las Palmas but that one is owned by the Canadian Snowbird couple.

It seems the Acme House Company ended up buying the first home on East Marshall Way in 2015 from the Estately real estate listing and made even more renovations to bring a move exciting look to the property.  Remember, it was in the old Movie Colony neighborhood so it probably still has that feeling that you’re expecting while in Palm Springs.

Acme has advertised properties on VRBO but also through this AirBNB listing. The company has developed a nice portfolio of luxury Palm Springs rental properties that they privately own but operate them like a 5-star resort.  They have a good established record of reviews on various sites like TripAdvisor, AirBNB and VRBO for the range of properties that they list for rentals.  Naturally, they are attracting a new wave of millennial’s who are interested in modernism, Coachella party animals, desert hunters and Getaway Seekers (Kirk Douglas rented his second home this way) and those seeking the ultimate trip to Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and other desert cities. 

For other experiences near Kirk Douglas’s first home, have a look at these listings on AirBNB below:

To search for other places in Palm Springs, start here with AirBNB:

Rental Benefits and Features for Kirk Douglas’ First Home

Accomodation for 8 peopleAlfresco Dining for 6 to 8 people
Outdoor living room experience with fire pit featureOutdoor billiards (does it ever rain?)
Large pool and tanning deckNEW Spa adjacent to the pool
Mountain scenery backdropPalm trees
Pool heating at no cost depending on the seasonMid-Century Architecture
Feel the glam and chic-ness of the period with a pink front doorColor arrangements take advantage of modern white and splashes of color through
High style furnishings and Hollywood sex appealBedrooms have flat-screen TVs and high-speed internet
Open concept floor plan with flow between the living room, dining and kitchen and central open fireplaceMaster suite with direct pool access, soaking tub, and King-sized bed
Optional services include private check, pre-arrival groceries, daily cleaning service, pool massagesFeel like a celebrity all during your stay 😀
Key Features and Benefits from the Airbnb Listing

Check out the rest of the features and benefits through AIRBNB.  The nightly rate is steep but if you are traveling with a large group (accommodates 8 people) – for example, during Modernism Week – the cost break-down can be good for a short week stay in a classy and historic area, For all Acme properties, Kirk Douglas’ first home has the greatest demand.  If money’s no object, please book away. 😉  At the time of this writing, advanced cleaning protocols for the COVID19 pandemic were in place.

Rest in Peace Kirk Douglas.  You lived a great life and we loved all your films!