A Garden Tour of Malibu’s Adamson House

May 22, 2009 by Lisa Newton

The Adamson House, in Malibu, is very much a part of our past, present, and future. Its folklore lays both a physical foundation, and a symbolic one that is ever omnipresent. Its architecture, owners’ history, and location are an integral part of Los Angeles storied events, experiences, tradition and beauty.

This classic Malibu home was built in 1930 for Rhonda Rindge Adamson and her husband, Merritt Huntley Adamson.

The name Rindge is synonymous with Malibu. Moving to California in 1892, Frederick Hastings Rindge and Rhonda May Rindge bought the entire Rancho Malibu–13,330 acres, for about $10 per acre.

Rindge’s vision for his house when he initially purchased the Malibu lands were bold, visionary, and sophisticated yet simple:

“A farm near the ocean, under the lee of the mountains, with a trout brook, wild trees, a take, good soil, and excellent climate, one not too hot in summer.”

Rindge died in 1905, leaving his estate to his wife, Rhonda May Rindge, to take over along with his business interests.

Over the next several decades, Rhonda May Rindge certainly didn’t flange in her husband’s shadow. As a driving force of his vision and will, came the ensuing decades she fought the railroads; sought to stop the building of Pacific Coast Highway by taking her case to the Supreme Court; developed and built the ever present and popular Malibu Pier; but proceeded to build a short lived company with a long lasting effect. She was a single-minded woman who took her own path in life, an unusual path considering the time.

Tile Fountain

Facing financial difficulties and wanting to avoid selling her property, May Rindge created a small ceramic tile factory, the Malibu Potteries. At its peak, the factory employed over a hundred workers, manufactured and produced decorative tiles which furnish many Los Angeles area public buildings and Beverly Hills residences which can still be seen to this very day.

The Malibu Pottery factory, situated ½ mile east of the Malibu Pier, burned to the ground from a fire in 1931. Subsequently, the Great Depression ensued, causing a downward spiral in new local construction projects, sealing Malibu Potteries fate; it never reopened.

The Adamson House and Malibu Potteries – a Golden Memory of California’s History

However, the Adamson House is now part of a California State Park, a cultural and historical icon, and show place for the craftsmanship from and of the Malibu Potteries. The true legacy in craftsmanship and ability in the arts is how it is accepted and perceived—and in that, Southern California holds hostage to the multi-colored rich texture of tiles into building turned into art, which makes for a culture and many of Malibu and Los Angeles’ landmarks.

Tile Flowers

The Adamson House, is a visionary masterpiece; it took a planning period of five years, and a construction time frame of one year. Planning before doing seemed to be the motto of Rhonda May Rindge.

Backyard Fountain

Its backyard includes a fountain, which features both the aqua blue Pacific Ocean holding court next to the Malibu tiles surrounding the facade of all of the fountain’s boundaries.

Salt Water Swimming Pool

Also included in the backyard is a salt-water swimming pool. You can stand on the original diving board and with a quick look over your shoulder, the Malibu Pier is right there.

Of course, if you have a pool, you have to have a pool house.

Beach House Painting

This painting above the fireplace depicts Balboa, arriving in California.

Of course, if you have a pool house, you have to have a bathroom which includes a changing room and shower.

Bathroom Ringer

One unique feature to this bathroom was a ringer attached to the sink so pool users could wring their bathing suits after they took them off. After all, who would want to walk around sopping wet?

The Adamson House’s Exquisite Detailing

Small Details

All within the house’s original plan, no detail is too small. These gracefully adorn the exterior.

French Doors

These are the elaborate French doors which lead to the backyard and the fountain featured above. The obvious wave pattern in the ceiling reflects the ocean waves, and the blue in the tiles found on the patio floor, is a color seen throughout the house and gardens.

Rusty Bell

Here’s a closer look at the ceiling and bell which draws in the viewer with the same kind of intensity that a great singer receives from the audience. For an even a closer look at the Malibu tiles, Vanessa over at LA Places has a great story about her recent visit to the Adamson House.

Opening the doors to magic

Construction of the house started in 1929, as it was meant to be the primary residence of Rhonda May Rindge’s daughter, Rhoda Agatha Rindge and husband, Merritt Huntley Adamson. She, along with her family lived in the house until her death in 1962. In 1968, the California Department of Parks and Recreation bought the Adamson House with the intention of demolishing the house to provide a parking lot for Surfriders Beach.

However, for 14 years the Malibu Historical Society fought against the destruction. Through their efforts, the Adamson House is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  Now everbyody can give a giant shout out of appreciation and thanks to the Malibu Historical Society, for their unbridled thirst in protecting both our physical and artistic monuments.

Pink Snowball

I know I mentioned I was on the Garden Tour, and that’s what it was; the Adamson House and its history still physically grows and continues to mesmerize us.

Nature is awesome in its beatuy and of the picture above was of particular interest first, because I remembered its name, Pink Snowball. And second, because I had to stand under it and shoot the photograph looking up–these particular flowers hang down from a tree.

Especially during this impending Memorial Day, the more that I’m Travelin’ Local, it’s apparent that not only am I living the California dream, I’m seeing and learning it as well.

That’s also our ethos and mission at Travelin’ Local. By finding  the interesting and unique social fabric of things and places, we bring a slice of heaven here, to you also.  Enjoy.

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Architecture, Beach Towns, Culture, Malibu, SoCal

11 Responses to “A Garden Tour of Malibu’s Adamson House”

  1. A Garden Tour of Malibu’s Adamson House says:

    [...] Original post by Travelin’ Local [...]

  2. Diane C. says:

    I had never been to the Adamson House. It’s great to visit it through your post. So many beautiful details, love the peacocks on the tiles.

    Diane C.’s last blog post..Skywatch – Welcoming Weird Weather

    [Reply]

  3. Dot says:

    No wonder everybody wants to lvie in Malibu. It’s beautiful! And that pottery factory produces some awesome work. Unfortunately, both times I’ve visited California it’s led to disaster, so I keep away. :-)

    Dot’s last blog post..The Joys of Alcohol and Other Fallacies

    [Reply]

  4. David says:

    Stunning photography of a historic landmark. Just one more place you’ve got me wanting to go to.

    Great piece of journalism.

    [Reply]

  5. Lara says:

    Oh I am so happy you posted these. One of the things I miss most about So. Cal. is the architecture. I miss seeing tile and stucco and rounded entryways…

    Lara’s last blog post..Squiggle me this.

    [Reply]

  6. Jannie Funster says:

    $10.00 an acre, eh?? Give me some of that ocean-front price! What a gorgeous place. My favorite pic is of the open gates to the driveway.

    (Another super post that makes me a teensy bit jealous of your amazing area.)

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..“Sugar Lady” Video

    [Reply]

  7. LisaNewton says:

    @Diana C. If you look closely at the peacocks, you’ll see one tile was put in backwards on purpose. The reason is an Islamic one that perfection is only for God. I’m happy you enjoyed the tour.

    @Dot If you ever want to venture to CA again, please let me know. I’d love to do lunch…….:)

    @David Thanks. The garden tour is great. You should go there……….:)

    @Lara The architecture is quite different in the East isn’t it? I sometimes miss the colonial houses.

    @Jannie Funster Amazingly enough, when I was researching, that $10 an acre was up from the $.10 in 1857. It’s hard to believe the cost of land, at least in this area.

    [Reply]

  8. 10 Reasons to Use Mass Transit | Travelin' Local says:

    [...] example, on this trip I was able to write and edit an entire story about Malibu’s Adamson House, from my previous [...]

  9. Paisley (Paisley Thoughts) says:

    I so enjoyed reading this post and the tiles are striking. it really does make a difference to read about a far away location written by a local resident. Thank you.

    Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)’s last blog post..My ‘Salad Days’

    [Reply]

  10. The Majestic Vistas from the Pacific Palisades | Travelin' Local says:

    [...] Pottery’s multi-colored hexagon tiles and wrought iron detailing. An obvious elaboration from The Adamson House’s Exquisite Detailing. Although the backlight wasn’t ideal for the background, if you look hard, you can see the [...]

  11. Relaxing at Plaza Las Fuentes in Pasadena | Travelin' Local says:

    [...] the distinct hexagon shape, color, and design of the Malibu Tile Factory, its frequent display and use takes you to a faraway place; although it’s at the forefront of [...]

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