The Alexander Constuction Company
The company was founded by George Alexander and his son Robert, building starter houses of 1,200 square feet (110 m2) priced moderately at $19,500 in south Palm Springs, a location at that time not considered fashionable.
Each new development was increasingly ambitious, adding amenities and square footage. By the end of the 1950s, the Alexanders were building in northwest Palm Springs, traditionally the haven of the wealthy and "Old Hollywood" crowd.
The Alexander Construction Company built over 2,500 houses in the Coachella Valley between 1947 and 1965. The construction of these homes doubled the size of Palm Springs and caused the city to take on a new shape, direction, and character as an enclave of modernist architecture. These houses, collectively known as "Alexanders," have come to be appreciated for their rational designs, modernist style, and innovative construction and are now highly sought after, selling for a premium over their more conventional contemporaries.
Key to the Alexanders' success was their association with a talented young architect, William Krisel, partner in the Los Angeles firm Palmer and Krisel, Inc. With spacious open plans, beguiling modern conveniences, and an underlying sophistication, their homes appealed to buyers eager to shed the trappings of large, unwieldy houses for a more casual, carefree way of life. In an era of uninspired ranches and mock colonials, the Alexanders' uncomplicated designs of strong form and angles articulated a bold, new residential look.
Many of these later houses exceeded 2,000 square feet (200 m2), with the largest adding another 600 square feet (56 m2). A swimming pool was included in all of these designs, priced then from the high $40,000s to the low $50,000s. The neighborhood, known today as Las Palmas, became the neighborhood of choice for the "New Hollywood" crowd seeking weekend Colorado Desert escapes. Dinah Shore, Dean Martin, Joan Collins,
Marilyn Monroe, and Harold Robbins each owned an "Alexander." Frank Sinatra's home by E. Stewart Williams is nearby. Nancy Sinatra still lives in the neighborhood.
The majority of Alexander homes were designed by architects Dan Palmer and William Krisel, of Palmer & Krisel. Exceptions include those with an A-frame facade, known as "Swiss Misses",and homes in the Green Fairway Estates tract in south Palm Springs. The Green Fairway Estates in Palm Springs were designed by Donald Wexler, architect of the Palm Springs International Airport.
The most well-known Alexander house in Las Palmas is the Lawford/Kennedy house, originally built for Peter Lawford, connected by marriage to the Kennedy family and a charter member of the Rat Pack. During a visit to Palm Springs, President Kennedy was to have stayed at Sinatra's house, but ended up at Lawford's instead. The proximity of Lawford's house to Marilyn Monroe's supposedly gave rise to a rendezvous between JFK and Monroe.
In its decade-plus of building in Palm Springs, the Alexander Company and Palmer and Krisel garnered frequent national attention, sharing innumerable awards for excellence in planning, design, and construction.
Bill Krisel's lavish spec house for the Alexanders, partially intended for publicity purposes, was so treasured by Helene Alexander that she insisted they move into it themselves. Hovering over an inclined cul-de-sac site and balanced on winged walls of local stone, the 'House of Tomorrow' also known as the "Elvis Honeymoon Hidaway" was featured along with Bob and Helene Alexander (and daughter Jill) in a September 1962 Look magazine article, 'The Way Out Life' that boasted "at Palm Springs, dreams of modern luxury come true." The house and the Alexanders achieved some level of national celebrity when an eight-page article featuring the house and the family appeared in Look magazine in September 1962. The article portrayed the Alexanders and their estate as the center of social activities in Palm Springs in the early 1960s.
George Alexander and his wife Mildred, also known as “Jimmie”, and their son Robert Alexander, with his wife Helene, were killed on November 14, 1965 on their ill-fated flight. The Flying Tiger Line chartered Learjet Model 23 (N243F) crashed into the Little Chocolate Mountains near Indio, California, while on a flight from Palm Springs to Burbank. Robert and Helene were survived by their 11-year old daughter Jill, who was not on the plane.
There were two additional passengers on board, Richard Koret and Peter Prescott. Koret was a recipient of the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award in 1938 and was the founder of Koret, Inc., a highly regarded handbag manufacturing company. One of Koret's most famous clients was First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Peter Prescott was the 11-year-old son of Bob Prescott, the founder and president of The Flying Tiger Line.
The Alexander Construction Company ceased operations with the deaths of its principals.