Over the years information is lost to history - some of it
important, some not. In the Borrego Valley, there are many
buildings where the names of designers and builders have been
lost - at least temporarily. As more research is done, we
hope to put names and faces to the mid-century modern legacy
of the community.
Desert Club - 1949
The Desert Club was part of the vision of developer A.A.
Burnand, founder of the Borrego Springs Community Association.
Burnand, along with his partners, desired to create the
ideal desert community, one that was "
from becoming a hodge-podge of desert shacks." To control
growth and development, the Community Association initiated
deed restrictions on properties that defined what could
and could not be built, somewhat of a revolutionary idea
in 1949. It was, in many ways, the most effective means
of controlling development at the local level. Borrego Springs
is an unincorporated area of San Diego County, and as such,
County regulations (or lack of them) also define development
in the Valley.
The Desert Club opened in 1950, and included as its members
the most prominent citizens of Borrego Springs. While the
Desert Club was the first golf course development in Borrego
Springs, it would soon be eclipsed by the development of
deAnza Country Club in the northern part of the Borrego
The course was never fully completed and membership waned
following the opening of de Anza Country Club. The acreage
set aside for future development of home sites would be
sold off in 1964. In 1968 the three acres and building that
had been the clubhouse was sold to Robert and Sophia Schepe
who opened the "Galleria de Anza Borrego", an
art studio and antique store that was in business for more
than 35 years.
There have been few alterations to the over the years,
although living quarters were installed in some of the clubs
offices and rooms. The building's defining corner glass
windows remain with a sweeping view of the valley. The 1951
cocktail bar renovation by Richard Zerbe is also intact.
In 2005 (two days after closing escrow) John Scranton, the
present owner, opened the building to the public for the
first time in nearly a decade. Many in the community turned
out as part of the first mid-century modernism tour sponsored
by Save Our Heritage Organisation and the Borrego Springs
Chamber of Commerce. Since then restoration of the building
has been underway. Since then, the present owner has been
working to restore the site to its former prominence. As
of this writing the architect/builder remain a mystery although
Phil Brigandi suspects a La Jolla builder of the period
is responsible for the design.
Borrego Palms Resort (1958) (The Palms at Indian Head)
Built in 1947, Hoberg's Desert Resort was the Borrego's
Valley's largest and most important resort to capitalize
on the growing tourism business associated with the Anza
Borrego Desert State Park. After a series of ownership changes
through the 1950's, it was renamed the Borrego Palms Resort.
On April 22, 1958 a gas hot water heater above the beauty
shop exploded, the resulting fire gutting the main building.
It was reported in the Borrego Sun that the flames
lit up the Valley floor. 1
The Resort was able to re-open a month later, moving the
offices, lobby and coffee shop into an existing small building
near the pool. The resort had a large number of rooms that
were in cabins and outbuildings that survived the fire.
For the resort to continue long term, the owners committed
to rebuilding the main building. This time it would be in
a modern design, the contract for construction being awarded
to local builder Hal Martinez. There is speculation about
who may have designed the building, however at the present
time there are no known records to collaborate who is the
The present owners purchased the resort in 1994 and began
renovations. At the time the building had been largely abandoned.
Today it retains many of its original features, including
terrazzo floors and expanses of glass with spectacular views
and one of the largest pools in the Valley.