THE THUNDERBIRD COUNTRY CLUB AND THE ARRIVAL OF THE FIRST 18-HOLE GOLF course in the California desert in 1951 took the sleepy desert town of Rancho Mirage and turned it into a sexy, luxurious community for famous faces like Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz and Frank Sinatra. At the same time, the mid-century modernist movement was gaining popularity, and architects like A. Quincy Jones, William F. Cody and Wallace Neff were designing homes for boldface names in the sunny enclave. Architect Jill Lewis had worked in Palm Springs, California, before, but was living outside of the United States when Ron Hixson and John Falcone called her with a project they had in mind. The couple had been splitting their time between Hawaii and Rancho Mirage and had recently purchased a 1952 home in the Thunderbird Country Club Estates section. “The Barry Estate, located near the eighth hole of the golf course, needed some major updates. The first owner of the home was New York congressman Robert R. Barry, who organized the Dwight D. Eisenhower presidential campaign for the West Coast, and hosted not only Eisenhower but guests such as Betty and Gerald Ford,” says Lewis.
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