The Adamson House is a classic, Spanish-style Malibu home built in 1930 on certainly one of the most beautiful sites in So Cal with sweeping views of Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Beach and the Malibu Pier.
The story of the house and property involves the families of Rindge, Knight and Adamson. Frederick H. Rindge bought the 13,000+ acre Rancho Malibu in 1892 for a sum recorded variously from $130 to $286 thousand. He sought to build a farm or ranch near the ocean on what he considered the “American Riviera.” There were no roads in Malibu at the turn of the century and all people and materials had to come in by horseback or boat. To keep his piece of the “Riviera” under his own domain, he built his own railway line when Southern Pacific Railroad threatened to build through his estate.
Mr. Rindge’s wife, Rhoda May Knight Rindge, inherited all of the holdings when her husband died in 1905. She continued his plans for the ranch despite large inheritance taxes and interest bills. Knowing her husband’s love for the Mediterranean style and his vision of the Malibu area, she started Malibu Potteries in 1926. The local clay and water sources created the perfect materials for what became an internationally-known company. Many homes in the Los Angeles area incorporated the colorful tiles in their design as well as in public and commercial buildings. Due to a fire and the advent of the Depression, the Malibu Potteries were forced to close in 1932.
Merritt Huntley Adamson married Rhoda Agatha Rindge (the Rindge’s daughter) in 1915. He loved farming and established the Adohr (Rhoda spelled backwards) Stock Farms, a dairy. The Adamson House was originally constructed as a summer home in 1930 for the family and designed by Stiles O. Clements. Its style is characteristic of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture with Mediterranean and Moroccan influence. With a tile factory and its many artists, designers and craftsmen close by; an abundant amount of Malibu Potteries tile was utilized in the design of the house. Beautiful tiles can be viewed everywhere from ceilings to the pools and fountains; fireplaces, and even a tub for washing the family dogs. One of the most breathtaking creations is the 60 foot Persian style rug made completely of tile, featuring fringed ends in the design.
After the death of Rhoda Rindge Adamson in 1962, the Adamson House and its surrounding property went through a precarious period and were almost destroyed to create a beach parking lot. With the efforts of the Malibu Historical Society and the LA County Department of Parks and Recreation, concerned family members and citizens, funds were raised to preserve and restore the site. The Adamson house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a California Historic Landmark.
Guided tours (Wednesday through Saturday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm; last tour at 2:00 pm) are available that take you through the house which contains the original furnishings. The Moroccan influence can be seen in two pointed arch windows from floor to ceiling; interestingly called “donkey windows” because its shape allowed a fully burdened burro to enter a building! The grounds also house the Malibu Lagoon Museum and gift shop. Visit this unique and wonderful old home on a sunny day and be sure to take advantage of walking the grounds and taking in the incredible views! You will be astounded by the bounty of colorful tile work!
Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum
23200 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu CA 90265