AKA: La Quinta Inn, La Quinta, CA; La Quinta Resort and Club, La Quinta, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Herding, Franz J., Architect and Planner (firm); Kaufmann, Gordon B., Architect (firm); Franz Joseph Herding (architect); Gordon Bernie Kaufmann (architect)

Dates: constructed 1926

49499 Eisenhower Drive
La Quinta, CA 92253


This hotel complex began as a secluded resort for the Hollywood film community in the mid-1920s, and became an important early developer of golf courses in the Palm Desert area of Riverside County, CA.

Building History

Los Angeles architect Gordon Bernie Kaufmann (1888-1949) designed this rambling resort at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains, about 25 miles southeast of Palm Springs, CA. It opened on 12/29/1926 for Hollywood insiders and 01/1927 for the general public. A grand-opening notice with a bird's-eye drawing of the property appeared in the Los Angeles Times with the caption: “The unique La Quinta Hotel which was formally opened recently in Indio; patterned after the style of the old California missions, consists of a main building and six cottages and buildings and grounds, covering an area of forty acres, are estimated to have cost $150,000. Gordon B. Kaufmann of Los Angeles was the architect. Walter H. Morgan will manage the hotel on the American plan. A nine-hole dirt golf course also has been laid out on the grounds by Norman Macbeth.” (See “Unique Indio Hotel Recently Given Formal Dedication,” Los Angeles Times, 02/06/1927, p. E7.)

Walter Henry Morgan (1875-1931), whose family owned the successful Morgan Oyster Company of San Francisco (incorporated in 1886), owned the hotel which spread out over 1,400 acres of desert land. At this time, it had a modest and intimate scale, containing twenty guest casitas, three courtyards and a single glazed-in dining room, a setting perfect for directors, writers, actors and actresses seeking relief from the press. In 1926, Morgan opened the first nine-hole golf course on the property, becoming the first of what would become a huge array of courses in the La Quinta area. Morgan died only five years after his hotel's opening, during the depths of the Depression.

Development in the Indio region of the Coachella Valley was stimulated in the late 1920s by proposed construction of large dam on the Colorado River, known as Boulder Dam, completed in 1935. A 1929 Los Angeles Times article discussing a recent flurry of building in the Indio area said: "Passage of the Boulder dam bill by Congress has resulted in increased realty and building activity throughout this section of the Coachella Valley. Many improvements are planned and numerous realty transfers have been made of late.” At this time, three new bungalows at the La Quinta Hotel were planned to be built in the summer of 1929. (See "Indio Construction High,” Los Angeles Times, 03/31/1929, p. E8.)

In 04/1931, following Morgan's death, an investor, lawyer B.J. Bradner (born 02/09/1874 in MI) obtained ownership of the hotel. Bradner worked as a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Bradner and Weil.

Arnold Sigurd Kirkeby (1901-1962), the son of Norwegian immigrants, built a national chain of hotelsbeginning with Chicago's bankrupt Drake Hotel in 1937, and bought the La Quinta Hotel in 1945, but did not retain it long. As noted in a 1946 article in Time magazine, Kirkeby had made it a habit of purchasing distressed hotels, renovating them and selling them quickly at a profit. He sold it after three months to movie exhibitor John Balaban (1894-1957), one of the five brothers who built the mighty Balaban and Katz theatre chain in the Midwest. Balaban and Katz had become a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures in 1926, but the Supreme Court antitrust case, United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1948), forced a divorce between the two entities.

This resort hotel rambled over 45 acres and provided 850 guest rooms and casitas, a large spa, 25 private pools, 38 whirlpool spas, as well as extensive golf and tennis facilities. In 2007, Hilton Hotels managed the facility.

In 02/2007, CNL Hotels and Resorts sold the last of its 59 hotels to Morgan Stanley Real Estate and Ashford Hospitality Trust for $6.6 billion. Ashford, of Dallas, TX, purchased 51 properties (totaling15,105 rooms) with a value of $2.4 billion, while New York-based Morgan Stanley bought eight high-profile hotels catering to affluent travelers. The eight included the La Quinta Resort and Club, Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, AZ, and Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, HI, all of which were part of Hilton Hotel Corporation's "Waldorf-Astoria Collection." (See Hotel Business.com, "Morgan Stanley to absorb CNL Hotels," published 02/07/2007, accessed 12/20/2021.)

In the wake of the economic meltdown following the 2008 Great Recession in 2011, a group of lenders, including Paulson and Company and Capital Trust, Incorporated, of New York, NY, and Winthrop Realty Trust of Boston, MA, foreclosed on the La Quinta Resort and Club and seven other former CNL properties. The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (later known as "GIC Private, Limited,") bought the La Quinta Resort and Club in 2013.

By 2021, the La Quinta Resort and Club had 650 rooms, 41 pools,

Building Notes

The La Quinta Hotel won an Honor Award from the Southern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), 03/1930.

A private airplane landing strip was installed at the hotel for affluent guests in 1945.


The La Quinta Resort and Spa was remodeled in 2002.

In 1958, the Los Angeles architect Franz J. Herding (1887-1968) did some work on the La Quinta Hotel for its manager, Warner Gilmore. An article in the Palm Springs Desert Sun stated of a street abandonment applied for by Herding: “Abandonment of Morgan Road, also known as 49th Avenue, between Marshall Street and Avenida Serra in the La Quinta area, and of Avenida Serra for a distance of ten feet south from Morgan Road, was requested of the Board of Supervisors this week by Franz Herding of Hollywood, community design architect, in behalf of Warner Gilmore. manager of the La Quinta Hotel. Herding said the road abandonment will clear the way for completion of a golf course in time for the September reopening of the hotel. A hearing on the abandonment, which would be subject to construction of a suitable alternate road connecting Marshall and Serra. was set by the supervisors for June 30 at 10 a m.” (See "La Quinta Road Hearing Set," Desert Sun, Volume XXXI, Number 214, 06/06/1958.)

The lobby of the La Quinta and Resort was renovated and reopened in early 2017. The hotel's web site said of this modification: "On bold display is a fresh, bright, and airy open-concept design that embraces the history of the iconic resort while providing all the modern amenities and accoutrements one would expect of a Waldorf Astoria property. Guests now enjoy easy access and an organic flow to the registration area for that perfect welcome. Historic touches remain throughout with original Saltillo tile floors, and the vintage photos and relics that adorn the lobby’s History Hallway walls and the adjacent anteroom – the Santa Rosa — where guests can relax, chat, mingle and enjoy cocktails in cool comfort in the summer and in front of a roaring fireplace in the winter. And in a clear nod to the aesthetic of 'past meets present,' the dedicated Concierge Services area boasts the resort’s Discovery Center, an assemblage of massive high-definition monitors and touch-screen displays that invite guests to browse amenities, activities, and explore information of interest in the Greater Palm Springs area." (See La Quinta Resort and Club.com, "Renovations," published 01/09/2017, accessed 12/20/2021.)

Between 2014 and 2018, comprehensive renovations to all 620 rooms, villas and casitas had been completed. Patch.com reported: "All guest casitas have been upgraded as well as a redesign of the villas, main lobby, public spaces and pool areas. Additionally, the lush landscaping has been enhanced with additional roses, citrus and Cyprus trees and bougainvilleas." (See Patch.com, "Iconic La Quinta Resort & Club Has A New Look," published 08/19/2018, accessed 12/20/2021.)

PCAD id: 7699