Milestone marked in Legion building restoration effort

With the support of America Legion leadership, a foundation hoping to restore the 1948 building will soon be raising funds for the project.
A rendering of what the exterior of the Palm Springs American Legion building off North Belardo Road might look like after changes.

Organizers of the effort to restore the Palm Springs American Legion building are marking a milestone this week, and we’re getting our first look at the vision.

What we know: Last week, Lee Wilson Jr., president of the nonprofit driving the restoration effort, showed some early renderings and more plans pieced together by Secoy Architects and the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation (PSPF). The drawings show the building returning to its original, simple design.

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  • As currently proposed, the work will be done in two phases. The first will see exterior work and remodeling of the auditorium. The second will include a strategic remodel of the remainder of the building. The “lamella” roof, hidden above ceiling tiles, would be visible again.

Looking back: The building was first opened in 1948 and was designed by renowned architects Albert Frey and John Porter Clark. It has served as a welcoming place for area veterans to gather and the home of American Legion Post 519, which Earl Coffman founded in the 1930s.

  • It has also been the site of performances by some of the biggest names in entertainment history, including Bob Hope, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and more.
A “lamella” roof, seen here in this rendering, would be visible again in the Palm Springs American Legion building’s auditorium, following restoration.

The effort to restore and update the building and grounds began after a casual conversation in 2021 between Wilson and Marilyn Sullivan, who serves as secretary of the restoration foundation. It picked up steam earlier this year with the nonprofit’s formation, its website launch, and a visit from architect Susan Secoy Jensen and members of the PSPF.

Next up: With the support of American Legion leadership, the foundation will soon be raising funds for the project. Once the necessary funds are secured, any grand re-opening could be three-to-five years away.

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