Founding Fathers of Palm Desert

Clifford Henderson was a visionary who started monumental projects and brought them to fruition. Just as he built the Pasadena Winter Garden, the Pan-Pacific Auditorium and organized the National Air Races - he conceived an idea for a post-war community in the desert...and Palm Desert was born.

Randall Henderson
loved the written word and he was the editor of the popular "Desert Magazine." An expert on desert and mountain environment, he caused many people to lose their 'barren, desolate' mind-set about deserts. He was looking for a place to relocate his publishing plant from El Centro..and Palm Desert became that place.

Phil Henderson was Cliff's right-hand man. They worked well together in completing projects in Pasadena and Los Angeles; and so it was with establishing the community that became Palm Desert (Phil suggested the name). Unfortunately, Phil died very young - while the desert dream was still being hatched.

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Carl Henderson was a realtor who managed Cliff's estate in Brentwood while his brother served as a pilot in WWII. He eagerly jumped aboard when Cliff let his family know he could use their help, as there were acres of sand to be marketed in Palm Desert.

Tommy Tomson was Cliff's brother-in-law, married to Dorris (the only Henderson girl). A well established architect/designer of land developments, Tomson laid out the streets south of Highway 111, designed the Shadow Mountain club, and from his hand came many of the 'firsts' that evolved into Palm Desert.

Leonard Firestone wore many hats in his lifetime, besides being director of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. Of local historical interest is the fact that he invested heavily in many facets of Cliff Henderson's desert projects. Not only did he contribute funds, but he spent time and energy in being one of the pioneers. You will notice that various parts of the development shared the name of the two men, like Firecliff Lodge in Palm Desert.

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Clifford W. Henderson, father of Palm Desert California