Borrego Springs Park - Borrego Springs Resort (1963)

Following the success at de Anza, San Diego developer and builder John Anderson took the next step towards development of a second golf course resort in the Borrego Valley - the purchase in April of 1961 of the Ensign Ranch for a reported $1,450,000. 4 Initial plans called for development of a 1,200 acre senior community with a public golf course, final development would be a total 4,000 home sites.
The Ensign Ranch had been one of Borrego's oldest and best known landmarks. It was the site of San Diego County's only commercial date farm. 5

In March of 1962, the ranch was sold again, this time to Irvin Kahn and Carlos Tavares who headed up the Borrego Springs Park Corporation. Many of the original projects investors were folded into this group of owners. Both Kahn and Tavares are well known San Diego developers - Tavares partnered with Lou Burgener in the development of Clairemont. Kahn was responsible for the development of University City. Lou Burgener's brother Clair handled both the sale and purchase. Clair Burgener was active in Borrego Springs real estate, having at the time one of the largest real estate offices in the Valley. (Clair Burgener, a Republican, represented San Diego in Congress from 1972-1982). Lou Burgener was also a member of de Anza Country Club and had built a home there. The Borrego Sun reported in April of 1962: "a master land use plan for development of the acreage is now being drafted by Kenneth Mitchell of Los Angeles, former head planner or the Los Angeles FHA office…An 18 hole golf course is being designed by Billy Bell Jr."

4 Borrego Sun, May, 1961, Page 1
5 The palm trees that surround the development are those from the original Ensign Ranch having been transplanted by the developers.


In a front page, July 1963 Borrego Sun article, Henry Hester and the partnership of Hester and Jones is mentioned as architects on the first homes and clubhouse. The homes are modular steel - and built by a subsidiary of the Rohr Aircraft Corporation;

"Officers of the company have announced that they have contracted with Modular Components Inc. of Riverside, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rohr Aircraft Corp for delivery of 140 of the company's revolutionary modular component houses.

Unlike the earlier pre-finished houses the Rohr house is adaptable to a wide variety of architectural designs. The homes for Borrego Springs Park have been designed by Hester, Jones and Associates, AIA, of La Jolla.

Henry Hester, who admits that as an architect he is not a "fan" of manufactured homes, has nothing but praise for the Rohr product. He believes it is especially suited for the desert because of kits heavy insulation in wall and ceiling panels and the durability of its color-impregnated exterior.

Design details of the clubhouse to serve the golf course have been virtually completed by Hester & Jones. This will be a 10,000 square foot building with dining room, cocktail bar, lounge, men's and women's locker rooms, swimming pool and recreational area for volleyball, shuffleboard, etc.

Also nearing completion is design of a California mission style entranceway to the project at Titling T and Borrego Valley Road."

Construction for the first apartment units (now Club Circle) began in April of 1964. The following month the first family moved into the area. The clubhouse opened in December of 1964. In January of 1965, Tavares buys out the interests of Irvin Kahn and construction is set to start on 200 "tri-zone and duo-zone" units' "The tri-zone and duo-zone units Stenwick (resident manager of the project) described as essentially single family dwellings which can be closed off to make one or two rental units in addition to the owner's dwelling space…These new units will be built at Rohr Aircraft's Modular Components division and will be erected on the site east of the clubhouse." 6

However in late 1964, early 1965, the financing of the Borrego Springs Park Development Company unravels. The County Marshall, in a bankruptcy proceeding, padlocked the Hester & Jones clubhouse. The golf course and clubhouse would then sit vacant - for 34 years. In 1991, John & Bill Cameron (Cameron Brothers Construction Company) purchased the property and began a $100 million dollar project to restore the course and clubhouse, to build a new hotel and develop senior housing. John Cameron says when they bought the clubhouse "the ceiling was on the floor" and "We redid the clubhouse just as it was. We liked it when we were here many years ago (John Cameron was attending a conference of the San Diego General Contractors Association when the Marshall padlocked the building) and we didn't want to modernize it with pink paint". 7

6 Borrego Sun, Borrego Springs Park Construction Continues. January, 1956
7 San Diego Union Tribune, Seff, Marsha K., Country-club Restoration has gone a Fair Ways February 2, 1977, H1.