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Mother-daughter duo uncover famous architect Albert Frey’s first home

A local mother daughter duo were shocked to find that the house they purchased was the first home of a famous Palm Springs architect during the mid-century modernism era. News Channel 3’s Caitlin Thropay brings us inside the home and tells us the story behind it just in time for the Fall Modernism Week Preview.

Tune in to KESQ News Channel 3 on Wednesday, October 16 to see the full report.

It’s called the Guthrie house by Albert Frey.

Marina Rossi and her daughter Avalon, own a boutique hotel in Palm Springs. In 2015, Marina stumbled upon this home while house hunting.

“It looked abandoned but there was a sign and what really made me call about it was the address. The address was originally 666 E Mel View Avenue and I thought wow, no one is going to buy that house,” Marina said.

Then, she bought it for $745,000, still not knowing what a true gem she now had.

“I was told by the real estate agent that this was Errol Flynn’s old estate. He was a big movie star in the 40s and 50s and I was like wow that’s really cool. I wonder if there is other history on this house?” She said.

She had the Historical Society of Palm Springs look into it and sure enough there was more history to be uncovered.

“They called me back very excited and said, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s an Albert Frey!'”

This home is significant because it’s the very first residential home that famous architect Albert Frey built in 1935.

The mother-daughter duo decided to renovate and bring back Frey’s original vision for the house.

“Everything that was original to the house, mostly everything, unfortunately was gone so it was really important for us to capture the essence of Albert Frey without having his original things in the house,” Avalon said.

It took them four years and over $1.3 million to renovate.

“We first bought every Albert Frey book we could find,” Marina said. “We spoke to world renowned Albert Frey experts and had a lot of questions and we wanted to do the right thing. We felt like we were given such an opportunity to respect something that’s so important and we better do this right,” she added.

Many times during the renovation they faced obstacles but always went with what they believe Albert Frey would’ve done himself.

Throughout the home they pay homage to the famous architect and his life.

“Albert Frey was buddies with a few big architects and designers in France and one of them was Le Corbusier. At the time, in the 30s these guys were the grandfathers of modern architecture. He was very influential to Frey’s work,” Marina said.

Nearly every detail of the house has Frey in mind.

“This door was designed in the Albert Frey corrugated metal. We took it a step further and let it rust to balance the colors out with the grey floor and the warmer walls. We think it’s really warm and beautiful and adds a lot of color to the house,” Marina said.

“The backyard is my favorite part of the house,” Avalon said. “We had put this up and it was just grey metal color and it turned bright orange after it rained and that’s a really cool thing because Frey just loved the sun and the sunsets and that was one of his biggest inspirations were the natural colors of the desert,” she added.

What once looked abandoned, now looks a lot more like it was intended to and has many stories to tell.

“It’s just a really big honor to be able to do this house and just be able to work on a really beautiful and wonderful significant house,” Avalon said.

The home will be featured during the Fall Modernism Week Preview on October 19th. There will be a special tour and fundraising event. For more details visit https://www.modernismweek.com/

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