Money Moves

A California city will give $50K to the buyer who preserves this midcentury home

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A California city will give $50K to the buyer who preserves this midcentury home. Pictured here: The Miles C. Bates House as seen on Google Earth in April 2015. (Image via Google Earth)
A California city will give $50K to the buyer who preserves this midcentury home. Pictured here: The Miles C. Bates House as seen on Google Earth in April 2015. (Image via Google Earth)

A California city is offering $50,000 to buyers willing to restore a stunning midcentury modern home by an eminent local architect.

City officials in Palm Desert, California are auctioning off a 1,900-square-foot, city-owned house designed by Walter S. White, an architect who built more than 50 experimental homes in the Coachella Valley area from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. The open floor plan structure is distinguished by a parabolic roof that sails over the concrete block and glass walls and White’s trademark cantilevered corner windows. That roof was designed to be in conversation with the backdrop of mountains that rise behind the house, and was a design patented by White. Among many notable features, the home sports a bathroom with a glass shower that opens into a private garden.

The Miles C. Bates House in Palm Desert, California. (Image via City of Palm Desert)

Archival photo of the Miles C. Bates House in Palm Desert, California. (Image via City of Palm Desert)

Despite an impressive pedigree and design, the home, officially known as the Miles C. Bates House, is in profound disrepair, and additions from the 1970s (as seen in the photo at top) compromised the character of the original home. Although the city is obligated to transfer the deed to the highest bidder at auction, preservation-minded officials are hoping the $50,000 grant to restore the home will entice a likeminded buyer. (According to The Mercury News, the 50K offer is a no-go if the buyer substantially alters or demolishes the home.)

White's original floor plan for the Miles C. Bates House. (Image via City of Palm Desert)

White’s original floor plan for the Miles C. Bates House. (Image via City of Palm Desert)

Unlike other midcentury stunners in Palm Desert and neighboring Palm Springs, this one is relatively affordable. A city appraisal shows the property’s market value is between $320,000 to $340,000.

The house was completed in 1955 for artist Miles C. Bates.

Starting today, the city is offering interested buyers private tours of the home, but during next month’s Modernism Week, the annual celebration of modern architecture in and around Palm Springs, the property will be open to all for tours. For those looking to bid on the home, the fateful auction is scheduled for February 24, a day before Modernism Week wraps up.

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