Around 1902, the owners of the Green-Marshall Paint Company in Los Angeles bought land on a square mile of desert in what is now La Quinta. Mr. Green soon sold his land, but John Marshall thrived - he dug a 100’ well and grew cantaloupe and onions. The area became known as Marshall’s Cove and the road leading to the ranch was called Marshall Road (later renamed Washington Street).
Around 1905, Manning Burkett homesteaded a farm about a mile from the current intersection of Highway 111 and Washington Street. Five generations of Burketts have lived on the homestead ever since.
Norman “Happy” Lundbeck homesteaded a farm in 1906 on the east side of the rocks that jut out into the desert near the intersection of present-day Highway 111. Mr. Lundbeck worked the farm, and he also ran a stable and a small store. This area, formerly part of Marshall’s Cove, was renamed "Point Happy."
In 1922, the Lundbeck homestead was purchased by wealthy oilman and philanthropist Chauncey D. Clarke and his wife Marie. Mr. Clarke expanded his holdings to 135 acres, and called it the Point Happy Date Gardens Ranch. He grew dates, citrus, and row crops. He also raised pure bred Arabian horses. After Chauncey’s death in 1926, Marie continued to live at Point Happy until her death in 1948. The ranch was eventually sold to William DuPont, Jr., heir to the DuPont Chemical fortune. Mr. DuPont lived in La Quinta until his death in 1965.
The famous La Quinta Hotel was built in 1926 by Walter H. Morgan, a wealthy man from San Francisco. The Hotel got its name when neighboring rancher Raymond Pedersen told Mr. Morgan about a hacienda in Mexico called La Quinta. The Hotel includes swimming pools surrounded by cozy casitas, tennis courts, and two golf courses. In 1993, the La Quinta Hotel Golf & Tennis Club was renamed The La Quinta Resort & Club. At that time, the Resort added Spa La Quinta and Spa Villas, which brought the total number of guest rooms to 800.
In 1932, E.S. “Harry” Kiener purchased thousands of acres of land in the La Quinta Cove. Kiener subdivided a large portion of this property into a grid of small vacation home lots. Between 1935 and 1941, sixty-three casitas were built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. To serve as a social hub for Kiener’s casitas, The Desert Club was completed in 1937. Unlike the casitas, The Desert Club was designed in the Art Deco style. While all of the casitas still exist in the Cove, The Desert Club did not fare as well.
In the 1970s, developer Fritz Burns bought The Desert Club with plans to develop the property, but it was sold again, fell into receivership, and finally ownership reverted to the Fritz Burns estate. The estate donated The Desert Club to the City of La Quinta, which in 1989 allowed the California Dept. of Forestry to burn the historic structure as a training exercise. A plaque at Fritz Burns Park commemorates this lost treasure.
The City of La Quinta was incorporated on May 1, 1982. The city was named for the La Quinta Hotel.
Fun Fact: La Quinta and Beverly Hills are the only two cities in the world named for the hotels that pre-date the cities themselves.