Exploring the Timeless Charm of the Historic Racquet Club of Palm Springs - Peepa's
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Exploring the Timeless Charm of the Historic Racquet Club of Palm Springs

Exploring the Timeless Charm of the Historic Racquet Club of Palm Springs

In the heart of the California desert oasis of Palm Springs once lay a hidden gem that witnessed decades of glamour, history, and a touch of old Hollywood magic — the historic Racquet Club of Palm Springs. Nestled against the backdrop of the rugged San Jacinto Mountains, this legendary establishment served as a playground for the rich and famous since its inception in the 1930s until it was destroyed by a massive fire in July 2014. The spirit and celebration of the Racquet Club lives on in Peepa’s exclusive Racquet Club of Palm Springs collection. But we’re not here to talk about that… we’re here to tell the story of a Coachella Valley institution that was the heart of Palm Springs old Hollywood splendor.  

A Glimpse into Hollywood's Golden Era

Founded in 1934 by actors Charlie Farrell and Ralph Bellamy, along with a group of investors, the Racquet Club quickly became a favorite haunt for celebrities seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Its allure lay not only in its luxurious amenities but also in its secluded ambiance, offering a sanctuary far removed from the prying eyes of the public.

During the golden age of Hollywood, luminaries such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Lana Turner, Errol Flynn, and Clark Gable were regulars at the Racquet Club, drawn by its exclusive atmosphere and world-class facilities. Away from the glare of studio lights, they indulged in leisurely games of tennis, relaxed by the poolside, and mingled with fellow members against the backdrop of stunning desert vistas. 

Architectural Splendor and Timeless Elegance

Designed by renowned architect Paul R. Williams, the Racquet Club of Palm Springs exuded timeless elegance and mid-century modern charm. Its distinctive Spanish colonial-style architecture, characterized by whitewashed walls, terracotta roofs, and lush landscaping, seamlessly blended with the natural beauty of the surrounding desert landscape.

Stepping inside, visitors were greeted by a sense of nostalgia, as the club's interiors paid homage to its glamorous past way past its celebrity heyday. From the vintage furnishings to the retro-chic decor, every corner evoked a bygone era of sophistication and glamour, transporting guests back to the heyday of Hollywood.

In 1935, the swimming pool was built at the Racquet Club, the dining room was enlarged twice between its opening and 1951. In 1946, cottages were built along the banks of Netcher’s Creek, on the grounds of the club, and in 1956, more cottages were added to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors. So yeah, the Racquet Club was kind of a big deal. 

A Haven for Recreation and Relaxation

At the heart of the Racquet Club's appeal lies its dedication to providing members and guests with an unparalleled experience of relaxation and recreation. Boasting a myriad of amenities, including championship tennis courts, sparkling swimming pools, and a state-of-the-art fitness center, the club offered something for everyone— including the famous Bamboo Room bar (the place where it’s rumored the Bloody Mary was invented), a swimming pool and beautiful bungalows.

For tennis enthusiasts, the Racquet Club's meticulously maintained courts provided the perfect setting for friendly matches or professional-level tournaments. Champion level players such as Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Roscoe Tanner and Pancho Segura all played at the Racquet Club, and it was the host venue for the 1975 Davis Cup.

Meanwhile, those seeking tranquility could unwind amidst the lush gardens or indulge in pampering treatments at the onsite spa.

Preserving a Legacy

Despite the passage of time, the Racquet Club of Palm Springs remained a cherished institution, steadfastly preserving its rich legacy while embracing the spirit of modernity. In its later years, efforts were made to restore and revitalize the club, including renovations in 1977 and 1999, ensuring that future generations could continue to experience its unique blend of history, luxury, and leisure. However, after a massive fire destroyed many of the buildings in 2014, the rest was demolished.

This was only one year after the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation named the Racquet Club #2 in its list of the top 5 properties in danger of fire or demolition by neglect in Palm Springs. The exact reason for the fire is still unknown.

As the sun set behind the mountains, casting a golden hue over the tranquil grounds, it was easy to see why this iconic destination was such a timeless favorite among discerning travelers and Hollywood royalty alike. 

The Racquet Club of Palm Springs may no longer be around, but its legacy endures in film, photos and stories. There have been periodic rumors that it could be rebuilt and restored as an homage to the original, but nothing has been decided for certain. Regardless of the future of Racquet Club, we’ll continue to show our love for this blessed golden era of Hollywood in Palm Springs through our new Palm Springs Racquet Club Shop.


Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy bought an empty 200 acres of desert that would later be the home of the Racquet Club of Palm Springs

December 25, 1933

The first tennis courts open up on the future site of The Racquet Club

December 14, 1934

The Racquet Club of Palm Springs opens, with four tennis courts, a kitchen, dining room, dance floor and The Bamboo Bar


The Racquet Club swimming pool opens


First enlargement of The Racquet Club dining room


Western cowboy actor Frank Bogert is hired as the general manager

March 9, 1941

The Racquet Club is featured on an episode of The Jack Benny Program called “Murder at the Racquet Club”


35 cottages built along the banks of Netcher’s Creek


Marilyn Monroe is photographed at The Racquet Club for the first time by photographer Bruno Bernard.


Second enlargement of The Racquet Club dining room


The Star Studded Ride is released, a short film starring Gussie Moran and Dave Gillam at The Racquet Club


Additional cottages added to accommodate growing numbers of tourists


The Racquet Club hosts the 1975 Davis Cup Americas Zone tennis tournament

October 2013

The Racquet Club of Palm Springs is identified as an endangered historic property, and listed as #2 in danger of being lost by fire or neglect

July 23, 2014

The Racquet Club is demolished after a suspicious fire


The Palm Springs Historic Preservation Board voted to make the core 10 acres of The Racquet Club a Class 1 historic site