Our History


The Early Days of the Center
What would become the Joslyn Senior Center, now Joslyn Center, started with a community meeting of 40 people in January 1981 and was called the Palm Desert Senior Association, and its members met alternately between St. Margaret’s and University Baptist Church. As the group met more often in larger numbers, it became clear that a more permanent place to call their own was needed. 

The volunteer board of Hank Clark (then mayor of Palm Desert), Jean Anne Hirschi, Duke Baker, Jo Benes and George Sweet quickly organized and started looking for a place to meet. An empty office space at 73425 El Paseo was donated and opened in April of that year. The first members soon began organizing fundraising nights at the Pines to Palms movie theatre and eventually raised enough money to get things started.

Within the first year, Hank Clark approached Merritt Joslyn for funding for a building. The Joslyn family had long supported charities focused on senior issues and Merritt and his wife Penny were living in Thunderbird. A challenge grant of $100,000 was given and local philanthropists, center members and local governments met the challenge. By April 1983, money was in place, an architect was hired and construction was scheduled to begin in the fall of that year.     

The Center Today
The City of Palm Desert donated the current three acre site on a 40 year lease and on November 22, 1983, ground was broken for a 6,000 square foot building that would become the first phase of the current facility. In addition to the Joslyn Family Foundation, the cities of Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert contributed to the construction costs and support of the Center.

The Center’s grand opening was on February 22, 1985. More than 750 people attended. In that same year, the Clark Auditorium received its name in honor of our first Board Chair and the Center changed its name to the Cove Communities Senior Association to acknowledge the participation of the three cities served. Sometime later, the Center was renamed The Joslyn Senior Center in honor of Merritt and Penny Joslyn.    

In 1988, a second, larger building was constructed which now houses the Arthur Newman Theatre, Joslyn Center Wellness Center and several conference rooms. A renovation to the lobby added the bell tower entrance and a more formal front door.

For more information, check out our 2016-2017 Fact Sheet