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EMERSON STEWART WILLIAMS, FAIA (1909-2005)

Williams grew up in Dayton OH where his father Harry was an architect. He graduated from Cornell in 1932 then taught at Columbia 1934 to 1938. Then Williams traveled through northern Europe and he met a Swedish woman who he would marry two years later. Upon returning to the US he worked in Raymond Loewy's office on projects for the 1939 New York World's Fair, and the Lord and Taylor department store in Manhasset NY in 1941, one of the first large suburban branches of a department store to be built. Around 1941 Stewart returned to Palm Springs to work for his father's architecture firm. By 1943 Williams was involved in the building of ships at the Bechtel Marin County facility in Sausalito CA followed by a stint with the Navy. He designed some fantastic houses, plus the Palm Spring Museum of Art. Williams is honored on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. Bio adapted from Wikipedia. Research by Catherine Westergaard Cramer.


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1947 - The Frank Sinatra House, aka Twin Palms, 1148 East Alejo Road, aka 1145 East Via Colusa, Palm Springs CA. Built for Sinatra and first wife Nancy Barbato who divorced in 1948. Site of a famous fight between Sinatra and second wife Ava Gardner. Sinatra moved out around 1956 and sold it around 1957 to a Texas couple who let it decline for 40 years. Sold in 1997 for only $135,000. Sold possibly twice more. Sold in 2009 to Thomas and Marianne O'Connell. Sold around 2016 to Eric Ellenbogen. BW photos by Julius Shulman. Available for tours and overnight rental.


1947 - The Marjorie Main Renovations, 276 Palo Verde Avenue, Palm Springs CA. Originally designed and built in 1931, not by Williams. Could also be plans for a new house; status unknown. Listed in his archives. Sold in 2008 to Troy Willams and Gino Dreese.


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1949 - The O. J. Guidry House, probably unbuilt. Location unknown.


1951 - The Sam and Rose Maceo House, 43 Cedar Lawn, Galveston TX. Commissioned 1950. Sam Maceo liked the Sinatra house and wanted one like it. He died before moving in. His wife Rose stayed until 1954, when she remarried. On the market until 1961 when it was vandalized, then sold to Jack Evans. Sold to Robert Moody, Rose Maceo's nephew. Sold to Bart Moore. Sold to William Nealon. Sold to James and Kimberly Penn. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Available for rental.


1951 - The Ralph and Nancy Chaffee Kiner House, 71279 Country Club Drive, Thunderbird Country Club, Rancho Mirage CA. Sold in 2010 to Ken and Joanne Pfeifer. Has been severely remodeled.


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1951 - The Albert H. and Mae Weinert House, Smoke Tree Ranch, Palm Springs CA. Weinert was President of the Board of Directors for Smoke Tree Ranch. Williams also did a remodel in 1964.


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1951 - The Rubinyi House, 8221 Ashcroft, Los Angeles CA. Needs verification.


1952 - The H. J. Bligh House, 40257 Club View Drive, Rancho Mirage CA. Next door to Cody's Jorgenson Residence. Sold to Loretta Nicastro. Photo by Julius Shulman.


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1952 - The Fred Karlen House, location unknown.


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1953 - The William P. and Marjorie McInerny Edris House, 1030 West Cielo Drive, Palm Springs CA. Edris previously owned the Davenport, Olympic, and Roosevelt hotels in Washington state. He also held interests in the Seattle Rainers, the Pugent Sound Bridge and Dredging Company, and Dennison Foods. House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. Sold in 2018 to Jon Roberts. B/W photos by Julius Shulman; third photo by Michael Locke.


1954 - The Ernest Alschuler Remodel, 421 Santa Rosa Drive, Palm Springs CA. Needs verification. Original home built in 1939 for Katherine Romer, designed by F. Nelson Breed. Sold to Pamela Moffitt Green.


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1955 - The Randolph Christie House, 40137 Sand Dune Road, Thunderbird Country Club, Rancho Mirage CA. On the 13th fairway of the golf course. Destroyed around 2005, new house built in 2017.


Front yard

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1955 - The Leon J. and Thea Koerner House, 1275 South Calle de Maria, Palm Springs CA. Landscape design by Garrett Eckbo. Williams also designed an addition in 1973. Sold in 1997 to Henry and Allan Lamb.


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1955 - The Ernest Geierman House, Laguna Beach CA. Unsure if built.


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1956 - The E. Stewart and Mari Williams House, 1314 Culver Place, Palm Springs CA. Commissioned 1955. Alterations in 1991. Sold to artist Dale Chihuly. Sold in 2002 to Mark E. Pollack. BW photo by Julius Shulman.


1956 - The Roderick Kenaston House, 39767 Desert Sun Drive, Rancho Mirage CA. Sold in 2007 to Daniel Ivascyn. Sold to Lisa Brownell.


1957 - The H. E. Chiles, Jr. House, 7231 North Desert Fairways Drive, Paradise Valley AZ. Deeded to his daughter, head of the Ballard Family Trust.


1957 - The John M. and Molly Scott House, 71-305 Cypress Drive, Rancho Mirage CA. Has been altered away from Modernism. Sold in 2014.


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1957 - The Walter McDonald House, Phoenix AZ.


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1958 - 1066 East Paseo El Mirador, Palm Springs CA. Unbuilt.


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1960 - The Theodore and Marguerite Sutter House, 1207 South Calle de Maria, Palm Springs CA. Commissioned 1958. Interiors by Arthur Elrod. Sold to Brian John Schipper. For sale in 2021. B/W photos by Julius Shulman; color photo by Michael Locke.


1962 - aka the Little Tuscany Addition, 1025 West Chino Canyon Road, Palm Springs CA. Original home designed in 1952 by A. C. Martin from Los Angeles. There were later remodels, not by Williams, and he dropped it from his project list. Sold in 2009 to James and Kathleen Youngren. Sold in 2016.


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1963 - The Dr. Hampton C. Robinson Jr. House, Houston TX.


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1964 - The Harold J. and Mary Hicks House, 860 West Panorama Road, Palm Springs CA. Mr. Hicks was chairman of the Committee to Incorporate the City of Palm Springs in 1938 and served as a Palm Springs planning commissioner. Sold in 2014 to Brandon Creed. Interiors by Arthur Elrod. Photos by Michael Locke.


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1965 - The Bob Hope House, Palm Springs CA. Unbuilt. John Lautner later got the commission, which was built.

1966 - The Alma Walker House, 2433 Southridge Drive, Palm Springs CA. Unbuilt. Article in the February 3, 1967 issue of the Desert Sun stated that the first shovel of dirt had been moved and Williams described the plans as "a pavilion overlooking an 18' x 70' swimming pool, lined with olive trees through which a superb view of Mount San Jacinto could be admired."

1965 - The Mike Nidorf House, location unknown.


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1967 - The Paul A. and Jane M. Schoellkopf, Jr. House, Smoke Tree Ranch, Palm Springs CA. Possibly 755 Markham, needs verification.


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1970 - The Paul A. and Jane M. Schoellkopf, Jr. House, East Aurora NY. Unbuilt, according to Susan Schoellkopf.


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1971 - The William Holden House, 2433 Southridge Drive, Palm Springs CA. The actor purchased the Alma Walker property above with the plans. Unbuilt. In 1977 Holden built a house there designed by Hugh Kaptur.


1977 - The Alan Leslie House, 1060 West Cielo Drive, Little Tuscany, Palm Springs CA. Renovated in 2012 by Michael Johnston, who expanded the great room. Sold in 2013 to John Sherratt and David Howe.


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1985 - The Erik and Sidney Williams House, 800 West Stevens Road, Palm Springs CA. Commissioned 1983. Built for Williams' son and daughter-in-law. Williams did alterations in 1986. Sold in the early 1990s. Sold in 2011 to Lee David Clark. Top photo by Michael Locke.


1988 - The Adrian and Cass Graff-Radford House, 40380 Desert Creek Lane, Rancho Mirage CA. 7400sf. Sold to Ann Morrison. Designer Mark Nichols did renovations. Sold in 2015 to Diane Rubin and Lenny Eber.


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1990 - The Linda Ragin and David Levine House, Palm Springs CA. Unbuilt.


Sources include: Morris Newman; Sidney Williams; Palm Springs Museum of Art; Melissa Riche.