Hidden in plain sight along a hillside in Palm Springs are rock dwellings otherwise known as Araby Rock Houses, created and built by organic architect R. Lee Miller. Miller liked to build in very difficult places, such as on the side of a mountain. His unique and well-designed structures were remarkable.
Miller built his unique homes in certain secret locations, such as the private community of the Andreas Canyon Club, founded in 1923. These are the “Where’s Waldo” of houses because they are camouflaged by their own surroundings. Miller went on to purchase 330 acres, just above Ramon Road with the intention of building another hillside community there; unfortunately, that plan never came to fruition.
We know very little about R. Lee Miller. It seems that his architectural creations were a true representation of himself; he hid in plain sight.
Here is what we do know. Robert Lee Miller was born in Hill, Texas in the year 1887. He went on to serve his country in World War I. After he served his country, he trained as a civil engineer; after moving to Palm Springs, Miller took up carpentry and built many homes in the Palm Springs area, including a home for the president of US Steel. Miller also built an adobe and rock home next to the present day Moorten Botanical Garden for actor Reginald Owen.
The irony is that despite Miller’s prolific work in building homes, he had not had any formal training in architecture. It’s as though he came out of nowhere, created and then just disappeared in plain sight, very much like the houses he built. You can learn more interesting information on early Palm Springs architects by visiting the city of Palm Springs website.
From the Factory Floor
Work in progress
by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting