“To the Desert for Sun and Air!” – Physical Culture (August, 1932)

Dr. Albert Einstein is one of the most famous people in history and even has a room named after him at The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn. Why does The Willows have this?

One of the first owners of The Willows was a well-known lawyer from New York in the early 1900s, Samuel Untermyer. Among other things, he was famous for taking on corporate giants, such as J.D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan (you can read more about Untermyer in previous posts).

Dr. Einstein was a good friend of Samuel Untermyer and frequently visited The Willows’ hideaway with his wife. Of all the famous people who have stayed at The Willows, the most well-known guest was Dr. Einstein.

In fact, the publication Physical Culture includes a photo of Einstein at Untermyer’s “large, rambling Spanish hacienda, in which are all the comforts of a Manhattan home”. The article includes a photo collage of life in the desert and talks about the shift from the “Old West” to the how “Easterners” are turning to it for relaxation.

To see the photo of Einstein, as well as some thoughts of the author, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr., on the desert transition, you can view the PDF here.

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“Orchid-Lover” – Nature Magazine (January, 1931)

The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn is located in Palm Springs, California and is surrounded by nature. Whether it is the dining room that sits yards away from a waterfall or the many lush plants that surround the property, The Willows is truly an extraordinary getaway.

It’s no wonder that Samuel Untermyer, a renowned lawyer from the early 1900s became one of the first people to own The Willows.

Untermyer was known for his love of orchids and in a 1931 article, Adolph L. Fierst wrote about such in Nature Magazine. The article, entitled “Orchid-Lover” is “the first of a series of stories about the Nature [sic] hobbies of people prominent in many walks of life”.

Flowers and plants were Untermyer’s hobby and he devoted lots of money toward this fascination. “In all, he [had] about sixty thousand” plants from all around the world. He entered various contests and “won, literally, thousands of prizes”.

To read more about Untermyer’s fascination with plants (including how many people he employed to tend to them), in the article, which would have been written shortly after Untermyer purchased The Willows, you can view the PDF here.

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“Profiles: Little Giant-2” – The New Yorker (May, 1930)

In the first of two articles that profile one of the first owners of The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn, the author, Alva Johnston, introduced us to Samuel Untermyer. In the second article, she continues to familiarize us with the man.

Untermyer was a popular figure of the time, having been a powerful corporate lawyer. He appeared in cases with issues dealing anywhere from a huge corporate merger worth one hundred million dollars to a construction workers on trial against their own union. Johnston sums up Untermyer’s accomplishments well, by stating that “few great railroad, insurance, or banking wars or mergers of the last half-century have been complete without Untermyer”.

The New Yorker’s article goes on to describe specific cases that made Untermyer famous.

“The city has not officially acknowledged its debt to its great patron even to the extent of naming a fireboat or a park after him.”

There’s much more to read about Samuel Untermyer in The New Yorker’s second article profiling him, and you can do so by viewing the PDF.

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“Profiles: Little Giant-1” – The New Yorker (May, 1930)

One of the unique aspects of The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn is the fascinating people that have owned it.

One of the first owners of (the now luxury hotel in Palm Springs) The Willows, Samuel Untermyer, was a famous lawyer known for being a legal tactician, showing brilliance in the courtroom, and for taking on famous giants of the day (such as John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and J.P. Morgan). “He always picked his enemies big” is how part one of The New Yorker’s 1930 profile describes Untermyer. The article appeared shortly after he had acquired The Willows, which happened in the late 1920s. “He still tries cases now and then, but finds little pleasure or exercise in it since all hope of spirited resistance has vanished.”

The New Yorker started in 1925 (source) and is still popular today. That means that this profile of Samuel Untermyer would have been one of the very first ones that it had published.

This is the first article in a two-part series by The New Yorker that profiles Samuel Untermyer. Having been famous for many things related to law, the article says that “preparation, imagination, and audacity made Untermyer a great lawyer.” To discover intriguing stories of how Untermyer gained his popularity, you can read the article by Alva Johnston here.

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“Ojo del Desierto” – House Beautiful (July, 1928)

In the early 1920s, multimillionaire Tom O’Donnell came to Palm Springs seeking after relief of his respiratory ailment. After Tom married and returned from their honeymoon, they took joy in finding their extravagant residence. In fact, in 1928, the O’Donnells’ house was the subject of a feature article in House Beautiful magazine entitled “Ojo del Desierto”.

The article, written by Mary Kellogg, includes pictures of a cactus garden, wrought iron gate, the terrace, Indian rugs, the Living Room, and more. “‘Ojo del Desierto’ has been so designed that it seems to settle into its mountain site without hurting the mountain, which is a good deal for a house to accomplish.”

Now the property is mainly known as The O’Donnell House at The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn. When you combine The O’Donnell House with The Willows, the arrangement makes for a terrific venue for hosting weddings, special events, private parties, fundraising galas, and corporate retreats. These properties feature a veranda, desert gardens, a waterfall, as well as a large swimming pool area. For the sake of privacy, the properties are only open to guests and staff.

Step into the past and discover what the O’Donnell House was like at the end of the 1920s by reading the article here (as a PDF).

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“Front Page Stuff” – The American Mercury (January, 1927)

Samuel Untermyer purchased The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn from Nella Mead in the late 1920s. Untermyer was a famous lawyer and according to the article “Front Page Stuff” in The American Mercury in January 1927, “There are probably more clippings about him in the morgues of the New York newspapers than about any other private citizen, so-called, save Harry K. Thaw.”

The write-up says of Untermyer that “he had become a shining defender of the Plain People against the machinations of wealth and power.” This 10-page article describes Untermyer before he owned the luxurious getaway in Palm Springs, California, but as his national fame was waning (to a certain extent). Not only does the article depict what Untermyer was positively known for, but it portrays reasons that he was disliked.

To discover what this previous owner of The Willows was loved and despised for, read the article by Henry F. Pringle here as a PDF. You can also find out about The American Mercury (founded by H. L. Mencken in 1924) here.

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“Facing the Worst” – The New Yorker (May 14, 1927)

William Mead built The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn in the mid 1920s. When he passed away unexpectedly at the end of the 1920s, his wife Nella decided to sell The Willows. The purchaser was Samuel Untermyer, a legendary New York attorney, who had been the first lawyer to ever get a one million dollar fee.

Untermyer was friends with Dr. Albert Einstein, who stayed at The Willows and now has a room named after him. Untermyer owned The Willows until his death in 1940.

This New Yorker article was written in the spring of the year that William Mead died and before Untermyer owned The Willows. The article is a fictitious short story of two men in prison who are contemplating how they can get out. Untermyer’s name is mentioned as the one inmate’s idea of a way to “impress the judge”.

You can read the article by Carroll Carroll here as a PDF.

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