When Liberace’s Spanish-Mexican-colonial-style masterpiece on the corner of Belardo and Alejo Roads in Palm Springs changed hands a few years ago, preservationists were up in arms about the extreme facelift being implemented by the new owner. The house, in the storied Old Las Palmas neighborhood, was originally built by Alvah Hicks, founder of the Palm Springs Water Co., and has been known by many names, including Casa Teresa, named after Hicks’ wife, Casa de Liberace and, finally, the Cloisters, where Liberace lived until his death in 1987.
“(The new owner) was doing some very off and questionable things,” says Martin Newman, a designer and restorer of classic Spanish and Mediterranean-style homes who lives in the area. “It looked like he was tearing it apart. And now he claims that he came up with the original plans in 1926. And that’s what he was copying.”
Adds Jeri Vogelsang, director/curator of the Palm Springs Historical Society, the new owner “looked at original photographs here in our archives. And what he’s doing really does match those original photos.
“Another thing that he did was take off the add-ons” from when the property was a boutique inn in the early ’60s.”