Palm Springs’ ‘Bob Hope House’ is nearly as iconic as its former golf-crazed owner
Brian Thomas Jones
The Desert Classic is a sunbaked Tour spectacle contested every January in La Quinta, Calif. It’s revised its name more than a handful of times over the years (it’s now The American Express), but, to many, it will always affectionately be known as the Bob Hope, as it was called for more than 40 years. It’s an homage to the Hollywood star who helped thrust the tournament into the national consciousness when, in 1965, he lent the event his name and significant influence.
Hope loved golf and the California desert—so much so that he spent years building what is now known as the Bob Hope House: a 24,000-square-foot, 10-bedroom, 13-bath, mushroom-shaped edifice nestled into the rugged hillside of the Santa Rosa Mountains. If you’re driving through Palm Springs on Highway 111—the two-lane desert thoroughfare that spans all the way to Indio—you simply can’t miss it.
The wonderfully unique home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright acolyte John Lautner, who had gained a reputation for his “Googie,” or futuristic, style. Bob and Dolores Hope hired Lautner in part because they admired one of his most widely known works, the Elrod House, which is located on the same street as the Hope House.
Lautner was reportedly less than thrilled with the Hopes’ interior design decisions and distanced himself from the project before it was finished. But in 2016, venture capitalist Ron Burkle purchased the property for $13 million and recently completed a massive restoration in an effort to showcase Lautner’s unrealized original vision.
Now, the house stands as a permanent tribute to both Lautner’s architectural genius and the lasting legacy of its former owner.