The history of the land where Fritz Burns Park sits in La Quinta, CA is quite interesting.
In 1932, Harry Kiener bought several thousand acres of land around the La Quinta Hotel (now the La Quinta Resort & Club) and south into the cove. He built “weekend homes” in the La Quinta area for $2,500 on 50 foot by 100 foot lots. There, he also built the Desert Club, which was opened on Thanksgiving Day 1937. The Desert Club offered a restaurant and swimming complex for members. S. Charles Lee designed the clubhouse to resemble a riverboat, with smokestacks and a curving stairway at each end.
According to a memoir by Julie Scott Hirsch, building the pool was a challenging experience. When the excavation reached what they expected to be the bottom of the pool, they ran into tops of an orchard. The amount of silt deposited on the orchard was testimony to the severity of flooding experienced by very early residents of the La Quinta area.
Membership in the Desert Club was offered as an incentive to those who bought homes and lots in La Quinta. The pool at The Desert Club was a real sanctuary for families who remained in La Quinta during the summer. Club activities also included tennis, horseshoes, archery, volleyball, shuffleboard and year-round theme parties.
Among some of the celebrities that were welcomed by the club include – Greer Garson, Irene Dunne, Rhonda Fleming, Virginia Mayo, Kirk Douglas, Shirley Booth, James Drury and General George S. Patton.
With change of ownership and unstable management, Desert Club hit a rocky road in the 1960’s. It suffered fire damage in 1965 and was completely repaired in 1966.
In March 1972, Desert Club was bought by Fritz Burns, a developer and owner of the Erawan Gardens Hotel in Indian Wells (now the Miramonte Resort and Spa).
Interest in Desert Club memberships waned as the desert communities grew. More people had swimming pools and country clubs developed.
The Desert Club closed in the mid-1980’s and the buildings were burned to the ground by the Riverside County Fire Department.
About the Author
Brad Schmett is La Quinta’s Real Estate Market Specialist. Brad and his team provide sellers with information and resources that help them best position their real estate for sale and they work with buyers to maximize their residential real estate investment. Brad can be reached at (760) 880-5845 or www.LaQuintaRealEstateInfo.com.