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Authentically Restored “Forgotten Frey: The Cree House” Debuts at Modernism Week

Design Trends

One of the two most intact residences by architect Albert Frey welcomed Modernism Week attendees this February. Built in 1955, the home has been a strictly private residence — never seen by or open to the public until now. Characteristics that are a recurring signature in Frey’s work include its jutting balconies with corrugated Fiberglass railings, industrial materials and thin roof overhangs. The design even bears a number of distinct similarities to Frey’s own celebrated residence — Frey House II — from the modest footprint and glass walls, to a deliberate reverence for the land on which it sits.

Cree House Front

Cree House Back Patio

Photo Credit: LANCE GERBER


The Cree House has long been dubbed “The Forgotten Frey” due to its limited access and impenetrable
mystique. Raymond Cree, a former Riverside County school superintendent-turned-real-estate-developer was the original owner and occupant. He commissioned Frey to design a simple two-bedroom structure defined
by abundant glass and a hulking stone chimney that anchors it to the rough terrain. Cree originally purchased the rocky land with dreams of erecting a nine-room luxury resort. At 82 years old, he asked Frey to start fresh and produce this unassuming 1,300-square-foot home instead.

Getty Research Institute

© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)


Getty Research Institute2

© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)


gri_2004_r_10_b0022_f022_2360_10_cc-720w.jpg

© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)


Though many have glimpsed the hillside home from Highway 111 and pondered its provenance, no one outside of homeowners’ personal friends and family has had the opportunity to experience this quintessential Frey design. From its steep perch overlooking the border of Palm Springs and Cathedral City, the home has intrigued Frey devotees, architecture buffs and modernism aficionados for decades.

Cree House Living

Cree House Room

Cree House Kitchen

PHOTO CREDIT: LANCE GERBER


Throughout the past year, current homeowner Sam Harris has meticulously preserved and restored the
interior and exterior areas to very nearly their original 1955 condition. “I felt it was a responsibility of mine to get it back to where it was so people could enjoy it,” said Harris, who spent many of his younger years fondly attached to the home when his father owned it. “We didn’t cheat on a thing.

Dunn-Edwards Paints was the exclusive paint sponsor to this project, highlighting two hues on the home, DEW385 Lighthouse and DE6279 Armored Steel.

All current photography used with permission of Palm Springs Life and Photographer Lance Gerber. All archived photography used with permission of Palm Springs Life and credited to © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)