The Chart House Restaurant (1978) made clever use of a difficult site and was a spectacular example of “organic modernism.” Designed by architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, the low, scalloped and laminated roof combined with incredibly deep eaves and gave the building the appearance of a giant sea creature washed up on some ancient shore. The building won numerous awards and was designated a historic landmark by the city of Rancho Mirage.
On March 19, 2013 the Chart House Restaurant was demolished and an important historic resource of the city of Rancho Mirage was lost forever.
On February 7, 2013 the Rancho Mirage city council voted unanimously (5-0) to uphold the city’s decision to demolish the historic Chart House Restaurant (Kendrick Kellogg, 1978). PSPF board member Ron Marshall made public comment asking that the council demonstrate “true leadership” and find a way to rebuild the historic structure. After the Rancho Mirage city council’s decision to proceed with the demolition, Marshall opined to a Desert Sun newspaper reporter that the council had failed in its duty to protect this cultural resource and had “allowed an anonymous arsonist to write the city’s history.”
On January 17, 2013 the Rancho Mirage city council decided to delay a decision on the fate of the Chart House Restaurant until they could “digest” the considerable amount of public comment they received. Making public comment were PSPF board members Ron Duby and Babs Marshall. Both Nancy Sinatra and actor Gavin MacLeod were on-hand to make passionate pleas for the preservation of the historic building.
On December 24, 2012 PSPF sent a letter to the mayor of Rancho Mirage strongly endorsing the city’s conclusion that the Chart House Restaurant could be reconstructed or rebuilt from the extant portions of the partially-burned building. PSPF’s letter also asked that the city “not delay in leveraging all of the legal and administrative tools at its disposal to motivate the owner to proceed with the immediate reconstruction of this important historic resource.”
On December 6, 2012 PSPF received a letter from the city of Rancho Mirage (dated December 3, 2012) which stated that the city’s consultants had concluded “that demolition [of the Chart House Restaurant] will have a less than significant impact on the historic resource if reconstruction of the building replicates or recreates the significant architectural elements of the current structure, using federal standards.” The city’s letter went on to opine that, “If any portions of the existing building, such as the less damaged northern wing or fieldstone components, can be saved, the building should be restored to its original appearance around these elements.”
On October 10, 2012 PSPF received the following email response to PSPF’s October 3, 2012 letter sent to the city of Rancho Mirage and the consultants hired to study the feasibility of rehabilitating or reconstructing the Chart House: “Dear [PSPF]…We are writing to thank you again for the thoughtful contribution you provided for the recent historic building study on the former Chart House restaurant. The goal of the study was to determine if the building retained sufficient integrity to still be a significant historical resource, and considering community sentiment was essential to insuring a comprehensive report. Your input helped achieve that goal, and we sincerely appreciate your time and effort. For your information, the study generally agreed with your assessment regarding the historical significance and proper treatment of the Chart House building. Sincerely, Bai ‘Tom’ Tang and Terri Jacquemain [of] CRM TECH [consultants].”
On October 3, 2012 PSPF responded to a request for written comment from a city of Rancho Mirage consultant preparing a “study…intended to address…questions regarding the historic value of the [Chart House Restaurant] building in [the] future planning process in order to ensure compliance with pertinent sections of the California Environmental Quality Act.” The consultant’s questions inquired about the feasibility of rehabilitating or reconstructing the historic Chart House Restaurant.
On September 23, 2012 the Desert Sun newspaper reported that the city of Rancho Mirage had “ordered the suspension of the demolition permit [for the Chart House Restaurant]…pending the results of a public hearing on the building’s future.” No date was given for the public hearing.
On September 6, 2012 PSPF sent a letter to the mayor of Rancho Mirage asking that the city “explore other alternatives to include the rehabilitation and partial reconstruction or the complete reconstruction of the [Chart House Restaurant] building.” To read the PSPF letter click here.
On August 31, 2012 PSPF board member Ron Marshall asked city of Rancho Mirage Mayor Scott Hines to meet with the representatives of preservation organizations to discuss the future of the Chart House Restaurant.
On August 29, 2012 the Desert Sun newspaper reported that, according to city of Rancho Mirage City officials, “Wessman Development Company of Palm Springs, which owns the building, plans to demolish the charred structure.”
On August 23, 2012 the city of Rancho Mirage responded to PSPF’s public records act request. The response indicated that the owner of the Chart House Restaurant building is pursuing a demolition permit.
On August 16, 2012 PSPF sent a California Public Records Act request to the city of Rancho Mirage asking for all documents “regarding the investigation into the fire that occurred at the Chart House Restaurant…and any correspondence with the owner…regarding the building’s disposition (including demolition).”
On Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at approximately 3:44AM, a fire swept through one of Rancho Mirage’s most important architectural resources, the Chart House Restaurant (1978) designed by architect Kendrick Kellogg. The quirky but much admired modernist building has been home to a revolving door of restaurants in the last few years and was, at the time of the fire, GG’s Island restaurant. The fire is under investigation. These photographs were taken immediately after the fire and document the extent of the damage.