Incredible Hugh Kaptur Home & Renovation!

Architect Hugh Kaptor and homeowner Tony Vaccaro

Architect Hugh Kaptor and homeowner Tony Vaccaro

My partner Rob and I purchased our 1958 mid-century modern home on E. San Lucas in December 2009. We immediately embarked on stripping away design “elements” that were not original to the house (mirrors, shiny marble tile etc.). In addition we restored things that had been removed (the wooden beam ores had been sawed off; original breeze block etc.). The 80/90s were not kind to our house.

It was during this period that we started meeting locals who were very involved in restoring and/or maintaining our local mid-century homes. One integral person being, Chris Menrad, one of the founders of the Palm Springs Modern Committee (PS ModCom). It was through him that we determined who the architect of our home was. Hugh Kaptur. However, our response at the time was, “who is Hugh Kaptur?” Keep in mind this was in 2010. Since that time he and has work have received (well-deserved) recognition on a major scale (his buildings have been saved from demolition; he now has a star on PS’ walk of fame). Not knowing much about him at the time I did what one does (a Google search) and found his address and phone number. I dialed the number with the expectation that whoever answered was going to inform me that he was “no longer with us” (remember the house was built in ’58). Instead a very charming woman answered (more on her later) and after having asked for him was told “he just went to Home Depot. Could I take your name and number and have him call you?” Wow! Was I pleasantly surprised! We spoke shortly afterward and arranged for him to come see the house he designed, but hadn’t beeninside of, since the early ‘60s.

He relayed everything he could remember about our home. Most importantly, his client’s name. Elma Larrimer (hence forth it wasdubbed Larrimer House). He also intuitively sensed that we wanted to remodel our original kitchen. To be honest, we’d been thinking about it but were in no rush. “Let me draw up some plans and see what you think” is what he said. Fast forward 5 months and we had a fantastic remodeled kitchen! We are so appreciative that he nudged us. 

In closing, to say we enjoyed meeting and working with him is an understatement, more like an honor. It also allowed us the opportunity to get to know his lovely (now late) wife Helen Dzo Dzo Kaptur (the other pretty blonde, on the left, in the famous Slim Aarons Poolside Gossip photo). The fact that Hugh is 87 and still taking on new projects (and revitalizing previous ones) and still golfing at the O’Donnell Club (where we’re also members) is truly an inspiration to Rob and I. Hugh Kaptur’s legacy in Palm Springs will live on for years to come. What an awesome accomplishment!”

—Tony Vaccaro