Sands & Shadows

Of windmills, volcano and the dawn of the Electric Sixties.





A money-man from Pasadena named Neill Davis had his eye on developing property in Palm Desert.


In 1959 he joined with architect Harold J. Bissner, also from Pasadena, and together they created Sands & Shadows.


Its first phase consisted of 27 units arranged in clusters of three one-bedroom / two-bath “apartments” (like The Sandpiper, developers struggled to explain their new properties because the idea of condos and townhouses was not in use yet) around a common recreation area with shuffleboard, barbecue, putting green, cabana and swimming pool.


Best of all, from a 1960 newspaper story: The all-electric kitchen Is fully wired for the built-in appliances, and also to take advantage of new electrical services which are now and will be available to home buyers during the "Electric Sixties.”


(Perhaps the first and last use of a term that never took off.)


Bissner, the son of a well-regarded architect, had a prolific career that included many Googie-style coffee houses across Southern California designed for Van De Kamp’s bakeries featuring a windmill on the roof, the Volcano House once owned by TV travel host Huell Howser, as well as plenty of elegant Spanish-Moorish style homes in and around Pasadena.


Gallery Photo Credits:

Aerial photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Palm Desert. Volcano house photo by Lance Gerber. Photos of Davis and Gwinn's Drive in by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10).

If you visit:

Sands & Shadows are front the west side of Highway 74 south of Shadow Mountain Way.


To learn more:

Topics: Mid Century Modern Architecture, Harold Bissner, Palm Desert History,

Palm Desert Modernism, Mid Century Modern Home Map, Googie Architecture