PSPF is leading an effort to name the new Downtown Park after Palm Springs pioneer “Mother” Nellie Coffman, owner of the Desert Inn and one of the city’s leading philanthropists. The city has historically named its parks after its illustrious female pioneers (e.g., Ruth Hardy Park and Frances Stevens Park) and it seems fitting to continue that tradition.
On May 18, 2023, PSPF president Gary Johns met with Palm Springs city councilmember Jeffrey Bernstein to discuss the merits of naming the Downtown Park after Nellie Coffman. Johns also provided Bernstein with copies of PSPF’s educational products on this important advocacy.
PSPF continued its advocacy to name the Downtown Park for Nellie Coffman by posting informational banners on the topic at PSPF’s Modernism Show & Sale booth in October 2022 and February 2023. PSPF’s booth was seen by thousands of show attendees and PSPF board members, and volunteers, engaged members of the public in discussion about Coffman’s many contributions to the city of Palm Springs.
On June 27, 2022 PSPF sent a letter to the newly-appointed city of Palm Springs’ Director of Parks and Recreation. In the letter PSPF informed the new director that our November 4, 2021 letter was still awaiting a response and asked that she become a “supporter of this important community advocacy.” To read the letter click here.
On November 4, 2021 PSPF sent a letter to the city of Palm Springs’ Parks and Recreation Commission asking that the commission agendize and hold public hearings on the topic of naming the new Downtown Park. To read the letter click here.
On October 21, 2021 PSPF board members and volunteers attended the city’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Downtown Park. PSPF took the opportunity to pass out educational materials (including Nellie Coffman “face fans”) and engage with city council members, city staff, the press, and the public, on the merits of naming the Downtown Park for Coffman. Additionally, PSPF was recognized for donating the impressive bronze plaque that welcomes visitors to the park.
PSPF premiered a 10-minute film entitled “Let’s Name the New Downtown Park for ‘Mother’ Nellie Coffman!” during Modernism Week in April 2021. Watch the Film
On October 28, 2020 PSPF sent a letter to the city of Palm Springs’ City Manager asking that the topic of the “formal naming” of the Downtown Park be placed on a future city council meeting agenda as soon as possible. To read the letter click here.
On August 6, 2020 PSPF president Gary Johns made compelling public comment during a “virtual” Palm Springs city council meeting and encouraged the council members to name the new Downtown Park after Nellie Coffman.
In November and December of 2018, PSPF president Gary Johns (accompanied by various PSPF board members) met with Palm Springs city councilmembers to discuss the merits of naming the Downtown Park after Nellie Coffman.
On November 28, 2018 the Palm Springs Modern Committee endorsed the idea of naming the Downtown Park for Palm Springs pioneer Nellie Coffman. To read the PSModCom letter click here.
On November 15, 2018 PSPF honorary board member William Kleindienst gave a riveting lecture on the life of Nellie Coffman for the Palm Springs Historical Society (PSHS). Speaking to a full house at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, Kleindienst concluded his lecture by making a compelling case for the naming of the Downtown Park after Nellie Coffman. Kleindienst opined, “She [Coffman] did more for Palm Springs than anyone else, period,” concluding with, “Let’s get this park named for Nellie!” After the event, PSPF board members Steven Keylon and Gary Johns distributed more than 250 copies of PSPF’s eight-page Coffman advocacy booklet to the departing lecture attendees.
On November 11, 2018 PSPF board member Steven Price made public comment before the city of Palm Springs’ Historic Site Preservation Board describing the foundation’s advocacy to name the Downtown Park after early pioneer Nellie Coffman. Price also distributed copies of PSPF’s eight-page advocacy booklet on the topic to the board members and city staff.
From October 19-21, 2018 PSPF′s advocacy effort to have the downtown park named after Nellie Coffman was the primary focus of PSPF′s booth at the Modernism Show & Sale. PSPF board members and volunteers talked with hundreds of show attendees about this initiative. A special eight-page advocacy booklet (which included “five reasons” to name the downtown park after Coffman) was distributed. To read the booklet click here.
On September 10, 2018 PSPF sent a letter to the Palm Springs city manager asking that the city have Rios Design Studio “identify an area for an historic element in the Downtown Park…to create…[an] area of the park that pays respect to the Desert Inn and Nellie Coffman.” Further, the letter committed PSPF to “providing up to $10,000 towards costs associated with the physical elements, which may still include the famed Desert Inn gates.” To read the letter click here.
On February 21, 2018, as part of PSPF’s free lecture series, former Palm Springs mayor Will Kleindienst gave a riveting presentation about the life of pioneer and philanthropist Nellie Coffman. During the talk, given to a full house at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club, Kleindienst described Coffman as “one of the women who built Palm Springs.”
PSPF and Modernism Week partnered to produce and display an oversized storyboard celebrating Nellie Coffman’s Desert Inn. The display at “CAMP” was seen by thousands of Modernism Week 2018 attendees.
On October 18, 2017 PSPF board member Steven Keylon made compelling public comment before the Palm Springs city council in support of the naming the Downtown Park for pioneer Nellie Coffman.
On September 25, 2017 an insightful opinion piece written by PSPF president Erik Rosenow entitled “Name New Park for Nellie Coffman” appeared in the Desert Sun. To read the Op-Ed piece click here.
On June 9, 2017 PSPF sent a letter to the mayor of Palm Springs recommending the city name the new Downtown Park in honor of Nellie Coffman and opining, “We trust that the city will take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to connect visitors and residents alike to the storied history of the Desert Inn which played a pivotal role in making Palm Springs a world-renowned resort destination.” To read the letter click here.
In December of 2012, and in July of 2015, the Desert Sun newspaper published articles about the historical elements removed in the years leading up to the demolition of the Fashion Plaza (i.e., the Nellie Coffman star and the County of Riverside plaque commemorating the Desert Inn). As reported in those articles, the city manager and Wessman Development principals assured the public that those elements would be re-incorporated into the downtown redevelopment scheme.
IN THE MEDIA
October 22, 2021, The Palm Springs Post (Downtown Park)
October 20, 2021, The Palm Springs Post (Downtown Park)
October 5, 2021, The Palm Springs Post (Downtown Park)
December 6, 2020, Desert Sun (Downtown Park)
September 25, 2017, Desert Sun (Downtown Park)
July 6, 2015, Desert Sun (Downtown Park)
December 1, 2012, Desert Sun (Downtown Park)
April 5, 2012, Desert Sun (Downtown Park)