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Einstein Dreamt Here, and That's Not All...

October 20, 2017
The Willows
The Willows

After CJ and Andrea’s wedding, Mrs. Chatterbox and I rented a car and began our quest to find a mysterious plot of land my parents purchased near Palmdale, California. My parents paid taxes on this land for over fifty years and I figured this would be the best opportunity for a family member to actually see this property.


Alas, we failed. We drove around for hours and were unimpressed with the area. After fifty years, little has appeared to change in the area. The lake, giving the small community of Lake Los Angeles its name, never materialized. Odd to name a place after a lake that doesn’t exist! There weren’t signs marking the area, and a mile or two after paved roads ended I began worrying our rental car would get stuck, stranding us in the middle of nowhere. There seemed to be vast areas of desert for sale, tracts of land adjacent to paved roads, so I can’t see how our land could become valuable in my lifetime.


I’ve decided to accept the last offer for our land—$540.20. I was born in California and this land was my last connection to the state of my birth, but I just can’t rationalize continuing paying taxes, especially since retitling the land in my name would cancel its Proposition #13 tax protection and quadruple the taxes. (The State of California has assessed the value at nine thousand dollars.) After bidding farewell to Palmdale, we headed for the last leg of our trip—Palm Springs. 





This was as close to our land as we got, I think; we were lost much of the time. There weren’t many roads or signs.


Picking a hotel from the Internet can be risky; photographs can be deceptive and we’ve been disappointed before, but this time we were rewarded with a stunning hotel. The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn was build in 1924 as a stately Mediterranean villa, a winter retreat for a wealthy family who sold it after a few years to prominent New York lawyer Samuel Untermyer. Untermyer was influential in New York and one of the great “superstar” lawyers of his day, and he invited celebrities to his Palm Springs home. New York Mayor Jimmy Walker was a guest, along with Shirley Temple and silent film star Marion Davies. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard honeymooned here. But the most prestigious guest was Albert Einstein.


Einstein had come to Southern California because his theories were being enthusiastically received and proven at Cal Poly in Pasadena, and the world’s most famous scientist wanted to visit a place of such intellectual advancement. In California, Einstein seemed to shed his notorious shyness. One thing he wasn’t shy about was sunbathing in the nude. I guess modesty, like his most famous theory, is also relative. Here’s a disclaimer should you decide to stay here; when I took off my clothes the secrets of the universe did NOT reveal themselves to me.


The Inn was nearly a ruin in the 1990s when it was purchased and restored to its original glory. There are only eight lushly appointed rooms and they book quickly, so make your reservations soon.


Pictures of The Willows:







 Waterfall off the dining room





The rock beneath The Willows was preserved and can be seen in one of the bathrooms.




Einstein enjoyed hiking to this spot above The Willows



Einstein resisting the temptation to go au naturel




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What a beautiful Inn! Question: if you had the property appraised, and its value was a pittance as you expect, could you not appeal the State's $9000 appraised value? We do that here all the time. Just a thought.
By: scott park on October 20, 2017
I don't think I ever stayed at a hotel anyone famous stayed in. At least Einstein kept his pants on.
By: PT Dilloway on October 20, 2017
It looks like a gorgeous place to stay!!
By: fishducky on October 20, 2017
Your mother may be rolling in her grave, but i agree, sell the property. Your family has lost enough paying taxes over the years that i will bet even if it does go up in value a bit, it won't be enough to cover what's been spent already. That hotel is magnificent!
By: messymimi on October 20, 2017
The Inn looks marvelous! And your line "...modesty, like his most famous theory, is also relative" is a classic! Don't blame you for the property release.
By: Tom Cochrun on October 20, 2017
Now this puts you way up in status when you stay in such a prestigious place.
By: Red on October 20, 2017
I love the waterfall. But then I got to wondering: What if Einstein decided to take an au naturel walk under the waterfall? That would really have been dinner and a show!
By: Val on October 20, 2017
That hotel is INCREDIBLE! #BucketList
By: marcia @ Menopausal Mother on October 20, 2017
nice place. I inherited an acre of land in east Texas from my mother who got it from her sister who got it from her husband. Never laid eyes on it. we tried once but there are no roads to it as it is land-locked in the piney woods. we've been paying taxes on it for years and have decided this year to stop and let it fall into receivership.
By: Ellen Abbott on October 21, 2017
Well you at least got a picture--kinda--of the property. Think you are smart to take the money and run. Loved the hotel but got nervous scrolling down when I first saw Albert's bare chest. Phew. Relief when I finished scrolling. .
By: Arkansas Patti on October 21, 2017
Some hotel! Your luck was wonderful to get a spot like that from an internet 'draw'... The rock in the bathroom was rather interesting! This is one of those kind of places that I would order some tea, and just sit and watch the scenery... Cat
By: Cat on October 21, 2017
What a lovely place to stay. The waterfall would make every meal worthwhile in my opinion :) And I think you did the smart thing to unload that property and call it a day.
By: jenny_o on October 21, 2017
I guess a developer was going to have a man made lake. Love how they tax on a BS assessment.
By: cranky on October 21, 2017
How cool, to stay in a place where someone so famous as Einstein stayed! It looks like a beautiful spot. What are you going to do with the $540? You should do something memorable with it!
By: Pixel Peeper on October 22, 2017
Nice hotel ... reminds me of a place we once stayed in Tucson, the Hacienda Del Sol Ranch. Einstein never stayed there, but they claim Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn used it for their romantic getaways (who knows if it's true)..
By: Tom Sightings on October 22, 2017
Considering the temperatures in that part of California I guess one can forgive Albert for shedding all of his clothing.
By: Catalyst on October 23, 2017
A lovely inn to indulge one self.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 29, 2017

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