A spacious and artistic high desert retreat formerly owned by Public TV celebrity Huell Howser, The Wheelhouse is a 2,221 square foot ranch-style house set on 12 acres near the main entrance of Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms . It offers unobstructed mountain views and wonderful solitude yet it is less than an hour from the glamour of Palm Springs. The 2-bedroom plus sleeping den, 2½ bath home is a prime example of mid-century California indoor/outdoor living with a huge, private pool/spa/firepit patio and a large, covered outdoor dining room/recreational area.
Built in 1952, the home provides an ideal setting for corporate gatherings, photo shoots, writer and artist retreats and extended family weddings, special events, holidays. Multiple seating areas make it accessible for catering, receptions or small-groups. It is both luxurious and rustic. The Wheelhouse is an ideal home base for park explorers and hikers, and a perfect yoga retreat location. It is a unique and restorative place in which to spend a weekend with family, friends or colleagues or a month or more by yourself working on a novel, finishing a screenplay or simply unwinding from the breakneck pace of city life.
Huell Howser bought the property in the ‘90s and surrounded it with a large- scale, modern sculptural steel fence designed and installed by the award-winning Belzberg Architects group of Santa Monica, CA. As an avid collector of found materials, Howser re-purposed unique objects by turning quarry stones into yard sculptures and industrial elements into lighting fixtures. Five large millstones, each more than 100 years old, surround the full-length backyard pool, giving the home its name. In the early 2000s, he added a sunroom extension created by panels of etched glass, with a separate living room and dining area in the same industrial style, making the home further suited to large gatherings.
After Howser’s passing, the house was purchased by artist Joan Robey whose work is uniquely synergistic with Howser’s aesthetic. Her own sculptures integrate beautifully into the setting. She has revitalized the house, upgrading the comfort level of the property while offering an eclectic mix of furnishings of mid- century-meets-funky; a perfect fit with the spirit of Howser’s vision of an art-filled desert oasis.
Photography by Jill Paider