Time Machine: 1957-58.

Original Rendering for the Impala Lodge.

As many of you know, Stephen and I have had a keen interest in the history of the Triangle Inn Palm Springs ever since we purchased it in January of 2001. Kevin and Matthew, the previous owners (who actually named it the Triangle Inn when they opened the Inn in 1990), knew the name of the architect, and had a name for the original owner (which later turned out to be somewhat wrong), but had never done any historical research. They had also never actually contacted the architect (even though they told us he was still working in the Coachella Valley).

Needless to say, we were intrigued, but we were also new owners with plenty to do. It took us around a year to get more than the the basics, but we did get the process started. We met Hugh Kaptur, the architect, and found out the Inn was his very first commercial project. We found out (from Mr. Kaptur) that it was originally called the Impala Lodge, and that the original owner was Fern Laurence (who opened it in 1958).

Mr Kaptur  gave us several pieces of artwork, and photos (which we scanned and saved). Among them were an original architectural rendering for the Impala Lodge, several construction photos (taken by Bethlehem Steel), a couple of photos taken just after completion, and even a copy of Mr. Kaptur’s business card!

In recent years, Hugh Kaptur, who was one of the youngest of Palm Springs’ Mid-Century Modern Architects, has gained recognition for his work. An exerpt from his bio on the Palm Springs Modern Committee’s web page says “During a trip to Palm Springs in 1956, Kaptur elected to stay and has remained ever since. In his early years in Palm Springs, he apprenticed in the firm of Wexler & Harrison.”

“Kaptur’s first own Palm Springs project was the Impala Lodge, now the Triangle Inn, in 1957-58. Other projects followed soon including the William Burgess Residence, the Pete Seva Residence and the Robert Leaver Residence (now demolished) all perched above Palisades Road on a rocky ledge with sweeping panoramic views of the valley floor.”

“Partnering briefly with architect Robert Ricciardi in 1961, the firm completed Palm Springs Fire Station #3 and the Palm Springs Golf Course Clubhouse. From 1965- 1975 in partnership with Larry Lapham the firm designed lavish homes in the exclusive Thunderbird and Eldorado Country Clubs; other projects included the Tahquitz Plaza / Anderson Travel buildings (scheduled for demolition), and Fire Station #4. Also during this period, Kaptur remodeled the Casa Blanca Hotel into its current iteration as the Musicland Hotel. He is probably best known for two Southridge houses, one for actor Steve McQueen (1968), the other for William Holden (1977).”

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